09 July 2009

Karate exegesis [requested classic re-post]

by Dan Phillips
[By special request from Witness, we reach 'way back to May of 2006 for this classic repost, slightly edited.]
Yes, it's true: I "do" karate, using the verb in its very broadest sense. My three sons were in first, and then it became possible for me to join in and start making with the kiyai!

One of the (to me) counter-intuitive strategies one learns about sparring is to present a profile, not a flat-on wide target. That way, there's less to hit — and you're positioned to move outside. So if your opponent lunges at you, you just let him follow his momentum, you step to the side, and you work a little mayhem as he passes. Remember that: let him lunge, then do some mayhem from the side.

This same principle — allowed lunging, then angular mayhem — applies well in exegetical debates. Too often, we allow ourselves to be put unnecessarily on the defensive. Somebody cites a problem verse, and we start with the 47-page frontal-assault exegetical answer defending our position... and when we finish, they just go on to the next attack unfazed, untaught, unchallenged. We stay on the defensive.

I probably shouldn't tip my hand so publicly, but here's the sort of thing I try to do. Say we're making the Biblical case for Purposeful Redemption — that is, the view that our sovereign Lord died so as actually to save particular people (Matthew 20:28; 1 Timothy 1:15), not to save everyone in general but nobody in particular. (Or "Effective Redemption," in that we affirm that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners [1 Timothy 1:15], not merely make it possible for them to add the necessary critical ingredient to save themselves.)

Our friend pulls out 1 John 2:2 — "He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world," and slaps it on the table with the air of a gambler laying down the winning card.

"'The whole world,'" our friend emphasizes meaningfully, perhaps tapping the verse in his Bible. "'Not for ours only.'"

How do we answer?

Well, we could do a lo-o-o-o-o-ong riff on every occurrence "world" in and out of John's writings. We could go to John 11:51-52, and 12:19, and discuss them at length. We could do lots of frontal, defensive things, and take a long while and expend a lot of energy doing them.

Or we could step aside, let our friend plow on through... then work a little mayhem from the side.

That is, we could nod sympathetically and say, "Yes, I can see how that is a real problem for your position."

Our friend (if he's not read this post) will likely do a double-take, say "Yes, I... wait — my position? Huh? It isn't! It's a problem for your position!"

You see, he has lunged. Now we make with the mayhem.

With a puzzled look, we could say, "How so? Your idea is that 'world' means every human being who ever was, or ever will be born, right?" (Nod.) "So, do you believe that every human being ever born will go to Heaven?"

Aghast, our friend will assure us that he believes no such thing.

"I didn't think you did. But that means you have a real problem with this verse, don't you?" we could continue. "John writes that Jesus Christ is — not 'would really like to be,' or 'wishes He could be,' or even 'stands ready to be,' but is — the propitiation for the sins of the whole world. What is a propitiation?"

Our friend, an astute soul that he is, replies, "A 'propitiation' is a sacrifice that turns away the wrath of God."

We agree. Then with knitted brow, we ask, "So, if you're right about 'the whole world,' then John is saying that Christ has turned away the wrath of God for the sins of every human being ever born — you, me, Judas, the Beast, the False Prophet — everyone.

"On that understanding, how can anyone be under God's wrath, which Christ propitiated? How can anyone be in Hell? Why are they there? For what are they being judged and punished?"

"For their unbelief," our friend may offer.

"Oh, I see. Is unbelief a sin?" we ask innocently.

Our friend may nor may not allow as much. If he does not, we could add, "From what I read, unbelief certainly is a sin. Or is it not a moral issue to call God a liar (1 John 5:9-10)? See," we can conclude sympathetically, "you have a real problem. On your view, either unbelief isn't a sin, in which case God is a liar; or everyone's going to Heaven, in which case, again, God is a liar; or Christ really isn't a propitiation for all the sins of everyone without exception — in which case, one more time, God is a liar. Do you think God is a liar?"

Maybe now our friend might be willing to consider that the text is capable of a better construction.

We might help him open up to the possibilities with another question: "I think it's your idea of what John means by 'world' that is giving you such trouble. Can you think of any verses where 'world' unambiguously means 'everyone who ever was born or ever would be born'? I can certainly think of many that do not. Maybe that isn't the best way to read that verse?"

At the very least, he'll now know that, if the verse is a problem for Calvinists, it isn't a problem for us alone. If he's honest, that is. (And why would we have dishonest friends?)

In your mind, try the same exercise with 1 Timothy 2:6 or 4:10, or other similar "problem" passages. I think you'll find it pretty effective.

Allow the lunge. Step aside.

Mayhem.

Dan Phillips's signature

168 comments:

Bobby Grow said...

I've got one word: logico-causal, take this unstated philosophical assumption away from the Calvinist fears of universalism and I Jn 2:2 can easily be referencing what its straightforward reading suggests --- the sins of the world (in other words nobody has to engage in creative or experimental exegesis to "get around it" or even "at it" --- Calvinist or Arminian (all those Classical Theists).

And this is not even to mention the theological assumptions and implications of the Incarnation, not to get too far afield here. I do realize your point is to talk about a certain style or method of polemics.

Really though your point is the same one made by Plato's Euthyphro; and that is (basically) that he who frames the questions or discussion, "wins." This would be your side-step and subsequent mayhem. Of course the problem is, is that typically this "move" only works once; so the mayhem needs to be very efficiently executed.

goodtheology said...

Alright- first off, great post. Secondly- I've been waiting to ask this question forever.

If salvation is not contingent on my belief, but rather on the purchase and act of spilled blood itself, then was I REALLY born a wretch, dead in my sins, separated from God? If God had secured my salvation from the beginning of time, and if Christ's sacrifice redeemed and restored me unto him without having to wait for me to believe, then shouldn't I be able to say I was born a redeemed man, bought by the blood of Christ? Weren't my sins covered before I even left the womb, being someone who has been redeemed from sin by my purchased redemption?

Frank Turk said...

goodtheology-

You could if you ignored the rest of the Bible.

I'm thinking of the several passages in Paul where he says, in words to this effect, 'such a one as these you once were'.

While God's intention to save began in eternity past, and His plans are, frankly, unthwartable, we are saved by Christ's work, in God's grace, through faith. Even Presbyterian who baptize babies who have not one bud of fruit from faith or repentance would tell you that baptism mean nothing without faith.

So God's purpose to save you may be eternal and inescapable, but it happens in time. And it is both arrogant and helpful spiritually
Y to see faith as some which is merely a gift that has no clear role in our lives and our salvation.

Frank Turk said...

'helpful' there should be 'unhelpful'. I'm posting from a mobile device, so forgive the more-lousy than normal typing.

YnottonY said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
DJP said...

goodtheology — good question. I agree with Frank's answer. Let me add a bit from another angle.

First, the Bible doesn't go with the conclusion you draw. For instance, Paul alludes to a couple of people who were "in Christ before me" (Romans 16:7). In fact, he puts both together here:

"But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, 16 was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone..." (Galatians 1:15-16).

The setting-apart antedated his birth, but the actualization by effectual call happened in history.

God may view all things as a tapestry, or as a mural. He may perceive Creation-Fall-Redemption-Victory. But He so creates things that there is both a temporal and a causal sequence, to be played out in time.

So to your specifics, yes: in eternity past, God selects His own. Their salvation is made sure and certain in His counsels.

But His counsels and rulings include that they will be born sinners, wander in sin and (as such) under His wrath, until the moment He has determined to "reveal Christ" to them — that is, to send the Gospel home effectually and savingly, leading to their repentant faith (1 Thessalonians 1:4-5; 2:13-14).

Then there is a real transition in our experience, as the eternal counsels of God are played out in our individual histories by our conversion and baptism into Christ.

Hope that helps.

Man of the West said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
DJP said...

Man of the West — I deleted it for two reasons.

1. Seven comments, and two are "Here's a link to another post." That's discouraged. But more:

2. This blog has a policy of not allowing links to offensive sites. First thing one sees at that link is "Day by Day," which I think is a pretty brilliant strip sometimes, but which today starts right off with an objectionable word, and often has objectionable imagery.

No offense meant. And btw, in the meta of the original post, the subject of martial arts did come up, so your instinct was accurate.

DJP said...

btw, please feel free to stand by to engage it concisely here, in this meta, if it comes up.

witness said...

As a computer programmer I have come to appreciate the beauty of untangled logic and clear reasoning... ahhhh... Really... it's just beautiful.

witness said...

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” ~John 1:29

The passage you used Dan reminds me of this passage as well. There are a number of similar passages throughout John's gospel.

It would seem to my untrained mind that John is NOT emphasizing that every single person in the world for all time has their sins taken away, rather that salvation is not limited to the borders of Israel.

Is that the point he is making?

ulfbiggorilla said...

I really, really enjoyed this post. Great analogy.

DJP said...

Yep, Witness. Cf. John 11:47-42 —

"So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the Council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they made plans to put him to death."

David said...

Hearty agreement!

With a question:

How does NEXT! work into this method? Or is that just Indiana Jones smirking as he shoots the guy waving the sword around?

Flynn said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
DJP said...

All right, I see I erred on the side of liberality.

This isn't a link-depot. Want to engage the post? Engage the post.

witness said...

Flynn... I can see how that is a real problem for your position.

Davidinakron said...

Good post Phil.

To the "I have posted a response - HERE" folks:

No I am not going to go to your blog to read your response. Yes it is irritating. Please deal with the subject here. Is there anything more irritating? I am sure there is but nothing is coming to me in the wee hours of the morning.

DJP said...

I agree. Phil is a great writer and thinker. I love his stuff!

YnottonY said...

Dan,

I did "engage your post," but at some length. So, rather than post my argumentation here, I just provided the link. Now it is deleted. It's standard in the blogosphere to leave a link if others want to read a LONGER response to another's post. It wasn't spam and I only left one link. So it is unfair to suggest that I [or Flynn] was using this place as a "link depot."

DJP said...

I disagree.

And here's another thing: now that you've lodged your complaint, please engage the post, find another passtime, or expect further deletions.

Aric said...

This is one of my favorite posts, and I am glad it is on the “Best of” tour this summer. It has been useful when engaged with a friend (or more likely family member) who would like to set me straight. More recently, it has been a good tool to help my wife work through some tough theological issues (including the death of a friend’s young child).

Oh, and to clarify: the usefulness is the questioning rather than going into a long diatribe on what I think – I don’t inflict the mayhem on my bride! :0)

This technique reminds me of law school, which brings back memories of professors purposefully setting me up to inflict mayhem on me as I stand alone in front of my peers! Thanks for bringing back those memories . . . yeah, thanks.

Martin said...

Maybe I'm missing something but it seems to me that central to your argument is the idea that 'World' can only mean either everyone who's ever lived or the elect. Not only could both of those interpretations be challenged from John's usage of world elsewhere but isn't this to commit a fallacy? I think its called the fallacy of the excluded middle or something like that. In other words what if world means "apostate mankind now living" which would include both unbelieving elect and non-elect?

Davidinakron said...

Sorry... Dan... wee hours man... wee hours

greglong said...

Points taken.

Except...

John's only other use of "whole world", in the same epistle no less, clearly includes unbelievers (those who lie "in the power of the evil one.") So no matter how hard I try, I just can't explain away his use of "whole world" in 2:2.

My belief on the matter is summed up by 1 Tim. 4:10:

For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.

There is a sense in which God is the Savior of all people, and there is a sense in which he is the Savior especially of those who believe. I'm comfortable with that tension, which is why I call myself a 4.5ish Calvinist.

DJP said...

Not at all, Martin. It is the so-called "universalist" (who doesn't want to be a full-fledged universalist) who himself has to insist on that meaning.

greglong said...

(The verse to which I was referring in the previous post is 1 John 5:19.)

DJP said...

Irrelevant to the point, Greg, unless that verse means that everyone who ever has lived or ever will live currently lies in the grasp of the evil one. Including saints in glory.

That is what it must mean to prove the so-called universalist's oft-heard insistence that "world just means world!"

greglong said...

No, I would take it to mean that the same whole world that is under the power of the evil one is the whole world for which Christ is the propitiation. There is a contrast in both verses between "ours" or "we" and the "whole world."

Martin said...

Another problem I have is that you build your argument in part of the premise that God's wrath can't have been propitiated for those who are already in hell but I ask what about the unbelieving elect BEFORE they believe? Are they not under His wrath until they believe? Isn't it more accurate to say that reconcilliation is a two-sided thing? God makes the provision (God was in Christ reconciling Himself to the World) and in time His Spirit leads the elect to believe, thereby, if you will, completing the reconcilliation. After all if two parties fall out both have to be reconciled to each other for them to actually be reconciled, it is not enough for one to be prepared to be reconciled if the other refuses.

DJP said...

...further, Greg, there is a sense in which God is spiritually the Savior of everyone who ever lived, without exception? But specially the elect?

So, what does that mean? He lowers everyone's temperature in Hell by three degrees? Is He like someone who finds a drowning man a hundred feet under water, raises him to ninety feet under the surface, then lets him go?

greglong said...

Sorry, Dan, you'll have to ask Paul that question. I really don't feel the need to explain away the tension like 5 pointers do any more than I need to try to explain the Trinity or the tension between divine sovereignty and human responsibility (can you please explain that to me?).

What is your explanation?

(Sidestepping...)

DJP said...

"Another problem," Martin?

So you're admitting your first problem was insubstantial, and you're abandoning it to bring up a second?

One at a time. I'm for making progress, not endless-do-loops.

YnottonY said...

But Dan,

There's a difference between saying P believes Q, and what P believes entails Q. Those of us who think "world" means living apostate humanity [and not all humans that will ever exist] are not universalists. You may try to argue that our view logically entails that, but we do not advocate that position. So, to call us "universalists" is a straw man, instead of an attempted reductio ad absurdum.

In your post, as Martin said, you dichotomize between these two positions:

1) "World" means all humanity that will ever exist, or

2) All [or some] of the elect.

Then you demand that your opponents must find a biblical instance where "world" has the sense #1 meaning. We agree with you. No such instance can be found. However, we're arguing that there are instances in which "world" can stand for "all LIVING apostate humanity, even the unbelieving elect." You're not dealing with that category.

Moreover, the double payment argument that you're using to suggest your opponents must be universalists is even deemed weak by Dr. Carl Trueman, not to mention Charles Hodge, R. L. Dabney, W. G. T. Shedd, John Davenant [of the Synod of Dort], and the Puritian Edward Polhill, among others. Our Lord's death does not function like pecuniary debt payments. It's penal, not commercial. You're leaning on commercial causality to get your strictly limited conclusion. Moreover, you're not yet dealing with the fact that your argument is a double-edged sword. As I said on my blog:

"Wasn't Dan under God's wrath when he was in unbelief [Eph. 2:3], despite the fact that Christ died for his sins? Didn't Dan stand under the condemnation of God when in unbelief [John 3:18], despite the fact that he was one of the elect for whom Christ died? Was God making sham threats about perishing to unbelieving Dan in the gospel call, since Dan was never really in a damnable state? On Dan's system, it would seem, the elect are never damnable and the non-elect are never saveable. The elect are not receiving sincere threats and the non-elect are not receiving sincere offers, by implication. If Dan rejects this thinking or conclusion, then on what basis was he subject to God's wrath and standing condemned? Because of his unbelief? Well, didn't Christ die for that unbelief? We could say to Dan as he says to his opponent:

"On that understanding, how can any of the elect be under God's wrath, which Christ propitiated? How can any of them really be subject to damnation and therefore sincerely threatened with perishing? Why do the unbelieving elect stand condemned? For what are they being judged and punished?"

"For their unbelief," Dan may say.

"Oh, I see. Is unbelief a sin?" I ask innocently.

"From what I read, unbelief certainly is a sin." I can conclude sympathetically, "you have a real problem. On your view, either unbelief isn't a sin, in which case God is a liar; or none of the elect can be under God's wrath, in which case, again, God is a liar; or Christ really isn't a propitiation for all the sins of the elect— in which case, one more time, God is a liar. Do you think God is a liar?"

Dan would not accept the view that all of the elect are justified at the cross, or in eternity, but he has opened to door to that position in order to get the conclusion he wants, i.e. a strictly limited atonement based on the commercial causal categories involved in the double payment argument. If Christ can be the propitiation for the sins of all of the elect and yet they, when in unbelief, can stand condemned and be subjects of God's wrath, then why can't Christ also be the propitiatory sacrifice for more than the elect?"

Flynn said...

Hey Dan,

Let's try this,

In case you are referring to the claim that somehow John 11:51-52 delimits the meaning of world in 1 John 2:2, I offer this portion of my response:

The whole thing looks parallel in ENGLISH, but the Greek is very different. The principal terms changed: ethnos and laos (in J11), becomes “our” (1j2), but also its children tekna (j11), becomes holos kosmos (1jn2).

We can see that John does not even use the same terms, which one would reasonably expect IF he was intending to make a parallel overlay.

What is more, the prepositions and particles are also very different. In j11:51-2 you have Jesus dying for (huper) the nation, not (ouk), for (huper), the nation (ethnos), alone, but (alla), for (huper) the children of God scattered…

The object is people, and its Christ dying in behalf of (huper) these people.

However, in 1j2:2, we have:

He is the expiatory sacrifice (hilasmos), with regard to (peri), our sins, but (de), not (ou), with regard to (peri), ours only, but (alla), with regard to (peri), [the sins] of the whole world.

Huper is not used, but peri is. The object is sins, as peri denotes with regard to, concerning, with reference to. The structure of the sentence is actually very different, at the word/preposition level with only a superficial similarity. Btw, words like alla and de and ou are used billions of times in the NT. The only common word is but (alla). The only similarity is a basic dysjunctive pattern in English of: “not ours only, but also.” But this similarity is very superficial.

David

Martin said...

Oops. Shudda proofread. "... in part OFF the argument ..."

Also, I meant to finish by asking isn't this a problem for the line of argument you're taking here?

Martin

DJP said...

GregSorry, Dan, you'll have to ask Paul that question. I really don't feel the need to explain away the tension like 5 pointers do....

I wouldn't insult him that way, to suggest he's inconsistent. He says "to save," "redeemed," "saved," "purchased," and the rest. I "feel the need" to take him at his word. No tension.

DJP said...

Waiting for your response before moving on, Martin.

DJP said...

A lot of words, Tony, for something already answered 4:32 AM, July 09, 2009.

As to the rest, false premise, so really no need to respond.

Flynn said...

on another angle,

Dan, I don't think your objections are that problematic.

Dan says:

"Irrelevant to the point, Greg, unless that verse means that everyone who ever has lived or ever will live currently lies in the grasp of the evil one. Including saints in glory."

David: If we follow the line of thought that folk like DA Carson and other modern scholars take, "world" for John denotes apostate humanity alive in opposition to God and his Church. The world is conceptually distinguished from God and his Church.

If this is accepted, then there is a perfect correspondence between 1Jn 2:2 and 1 Jn 5:19. No one need be committed to the idea that "world" for John denotes everyone who has lived, lives and will live.

World then denotes the world organized in opposition to God. This is the same world in 2:2 and 5:19.

If that is correct, the only significant argument you have left, Dan, is that if Christ is the sacrifice of propitiation for all the world's sins, then all the world must be saved. That is dealt with by Shedd, Dabney and C Hodge, in their rejection of the double-payment fallacy with their rejection that the satisfaction necessarily results in the salvation of any for whom it was made.

I hope this meets your rules.

Thanks and take care,
David

Flynn said...

Hey Witness,

You say:

"Flynn... I can see how that is a real problem for your position."

David: Care to share?


Thanks,
David

Martin said...

Dan said:
"Another problem," Martin?

So you're admitting your first problem was insubstantial, and you're abandoning it to bring up a second?"

Me:
If I have sinned please show me where and extend me Christlike forgiveness. If not, I have no idea why you felt the need to respond this way. Perhaps you imagine me as a devious enemy or something? I had not thought that we were in dispute or playing some game. I merely posted a comment to reflect what I perceived to be a shortcoming. I then thought of something else. I do apologise for not being smart enough to have thought it through all at once. It seems that you had responded to my original post whilst I was writing my second (I'm a slow writer) and so at the point of posting I had no idea that you had posted a response to my original post. Yet your response above seems to assume that I was aware that you had responded. I hope this is not the case but it looks to me that your are more concerned with defending your position than with cordial discussion.

DJP said...

Sorry you feel that way, Martin.

So, are you admitting your first problem was insubstantial, and you're abandoning it to bring up a second?

It really is important to me to feel we're making progress, not engaging in endless-do-loops.

greglong said...

Greg: Sorry, Dan, you'll have to ask Paul that question. I really don't feel the need to explain away the tension like 5 pointers do....

Dan: I wouldn't insult him that way, to suggest he's inconsistent. He says "to save," "redeemed," "saved," "purchased," and the rest. I "feel the need" to take him at his word. No tension.

GregNo insult here; no suggestion of inconsistency. And of course I believe I'm taking him at his word as well.

I'm sorry if I'm not understanding...was your second sentence an explanation of 1 Tim. 4:10?

YnottonY said...

Dan,

I am not seeing how your response above to "goodtheology" deals with the point I am making. I know you reject justification prior to faith, and you assert that in your response above. However, you haven't spoken to the issue of how or on what basis you, as one of the elect for whom Christ died, can be under God's wrath and condemnation when in unbelief. Since Christ died for all of your sins, including unbelief, what is the ground by which he still holds you [when you were unbelieving] subject to condemnation and wrath?

Also, specifically which of my premises are false?

Thanks,
Tony

DJP said...

Your point (and name-dropping) are just irrelevant, Flynn, that's all.

If you read the post, you see that I am responding to one of the countless hordes who say "world means world," and therefore Christ died equally for everyone who ever has lived, is alive, or will live.

Anything else is irrelevant to this post.

DJP said...

Actually, I did, Tony. Or history has no sequence. Not rocket-science.

And the false premise was treated yet again in my last comment.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Allow the lunge. Step aside.

Mayhem.


Dat's a good tactic in biblical marriages too!

Martin said...

I'm sorry Dan, I can't admit anything about my first post because I don't understand your response. Can you explain in more detail?

DJP said...

Try my 7:51 AM, July 09, 2009 response, Martin. It's my second or third re-wording of the same point.

YnottonY said...

Dan said:

"If you read the post, you see that I am responding to one of the countless hordes who say "world means world," and therefore Christ died equally for everyone who ever has lived, is alive, or will live.

Anything else is irrelevant to this post."


Ok, Dan. Apparently you're only interested in addressing non-Calvinists or Arminians, based on what you say above. However, the arguments you're using in your post [and in these comments] are the same ones you would use against other Calvinists who do not hold to your strictly limited view of Christ's satisfaction, hence my replies.

Anyway, since my responses are "irrelavent" based on what you've said above, I will leave you to interact with the free will theologians, rather than with argumentation of Calvinistic heavy weights, such as Dr. Curt Daniel, C. Hodge, Dabney, Shedd, etc.

Grace to you,
Tony

greglong said...

Thanks, David and Tony. Your posts were helpful.

DJP said...

Yeah, Tony, funny thing, that. Can't say everything on every topic in every post.

Flynn said...

hey there Dan,

You say:

"Your point (and name-dropping) are just irrelevant, Flynn, that's all.

If you read the post, you see that I am responding to one of the countless hordes who say "world means world," and therefore Christ died equally for everyone who ever has lived, is alive, or will live.

Anything else is irrelevant to this post."

I will say a few more things and then drop out.

1) It seems to me that my partial response to your use of John 11:51-52 is relevant, regardless of my personal position. The argument is the argument, no matter who presents it.

2) I did read you post. Here is the problem as I see it: In your attempt to refute one error, you invoke a series of premises which themselves rest on erroneous assumptions.

It seems to me that you want to say that any attempt, per se, to challenge your assumptions is unacceptable.

For, as I am reading you, you want to target only those who buy into the faulty assumptions of your particular opponent. Fair enough. But you also will not allow anyone to challenge your own assumptions which lay at back of your critique of your Arminian opponent.

3) For me, the bottom line probably comes to something like this: In your critique of your Arminian opponent, you are using outdated arguments which have been refuted by later proponents of Calvinism. I am encouraging you to therefore correctly formulate a critique of Arminianism which does not rely on defective assumptions (defective as per the positions of men like C Hodge, Shedd and Dabney).

For example, expecting that your opponent be won over by way of an unsound either/or argument with regard to John's use of "world" is not the best way to proceed, in my opinion.

Would you allow your Arminian opponent to modify his definition of John's "world" (to match DA Carson's for example) and how then would you respond?


Its always best to ground a polemic on sound and valid arguments, even if it means we have to reconstruct some of our system to do so.

As Christians, we should never expect opponents to be won to our system by way of unsound premises or arguments.

Thanks for your time and take care,
David

Martin said...

Ah, I think I get it now Dan. I think your point is that your post is ONLY dealing with the position of those who do hold that World means "everyone who ever has or ever will live" and so I (and others) are raising points which are irrelevant to the post. Is that correct?

If so, I guess it just leaves me wondering why you would want to refute such folk with suspect logic because the fact remains that you rely on an either/or dilemma which excludes other logical choices and your arguments will therefore not be convincing to a smart universalist or Arminian who sees the errors in the logic.

Martin said...

I see David said what I was trying to say ten times better. Just answer him instead of me :-)

DJP said...

That's an awful lot of bluster without much boom, Flynn. Probably the most common resistance someone who affirms Scripture meets is just exactly the position to which I respond. They'll find the response useful.

No doubt there are multitudinous highly-nuanced and sophisticated ways of trying to get around Scripture, whether it be about what Christ accomplished at the Cross, or the exclusivity of the Cross, or the authority of Scripture, or what-have-you. And no doubt there are those who have the time to do nothing but shoot down each attempted evasion at great length, ending up exactly where I end in this post — but after 25000 more words.

One at a time.

Martin - right, and done, respectively.

Flynn said...

No Martin, you nailed it:

"If so, I guess it just leaves me wondering why you would want to refute such folk with suspect logic because the fact remains that you rely on an either/or dilemma which excludes other logical choices and your arguments will therefore not be convincing to a smart universalist or Arminian who sees the errors in the logic."

David: Martin you said in few words what I laboured to say.

Thanks for clarifying our motives.

Take care,
David

goodtheology said...

dan and frank- thank you for your reponses and insights- they are quite helpful. as it were, i'm still unclear on something. i know that my salvation happens in time- i'm just wondering if it's when god gave me faith and saved me when i was 22y/o. or if i was for all intents and purposes saved when christ died on the cross. i guess it's just the timeline. i believe in definite atonement, and so did christ's death reconcile me to the father right then and there, or was i reconciled several thousand years later when i believed? because i know i was dead in my sins before god saved me, but then i also wonder how i could be dead in them if christ has already removed them when he died on the cross. i mean, at what point did i become the righteousness of jesus? wouldn't it have been on the cross?

DJP said...

Goodtheology

1. Not asking angrily, but: how did my 4:32 AM, July 09, 2009 not speak to that question? It was sure meant to.

2. Don't go Ann Kiemel on me, dude.

goodtheology said...

dan, you're right. i've been re-reading what you have said, and i think i get it. it just takes a bit to process it and relate it to everything else, and firmly establish the sequence in my mind. thanks for the follow up and the patience.

dustin.

Martin said...

Well Dan, sounds like evasion to me.

Far from the effectiveness of a karate punch, it seems to me, to switch fighting categories, that your arguments don't get above feather-weight. :-)

Martin

witness said...

The point of the post was not what John meant by "world", but rather how not to be cornered into a constant defensive response for each wave of "unfazed, untaught, unchallenged" frontal-assualt foolishness.

The example Dan gave points out that John's use of "world" cannot mean everyone, so that allows you to "let him lunge, then do some mayhem from the side."

Instead of allowing someone to go blasting away with statement after statement without learning anything the point of this post points out how to turn it into a teachable moment.

But Dan can explain that better than me.

DJP said...

No, you've got it, Witness. But (as we see) no technique can make someone think it through, if he is unwilling to. There's always the classic "Did not, did not, did not."

But it does objectively pull the rug out.

Martin said...

Sure, I understood the point of the post, but generally speaking, when proposing a particular technique as being effective, its best to give a convincing example else it serves to undermine the very point being made.

Barbara said...

I read this not too long ago in John Bunyan's "Grace Abounding", and ran upon it again last night as I was flipping through and catching that which I had previously underlined:

I never cared to meddle with things that were controverted and in dispute among the saints, especially things of the lowest nature. Yet it pleased me much to contend with great earnestness for the word of faith, and remission of sins by the death and sufferings of Jesus. But, I say as to other things, I would let them alone, because I saw they engendered strife, and because they neither in doing nor in leaving undone did commend us to God to be His.

Wise man, he.

witness said...

The example given is a convincing one because it illustrates the point of how get someone to open their eyes that maybe, just maybe the ground they are standing on might not be so solid.

"At the very least, he'll now know that, if the verse is a problem for Calvinists, it isn't a problem for us alone."

The example might not however, perfectly illustrate on where you land on what you think John meant by "world".

Roberto G said...

"Allow the lunge. Step aside.
Mayhem."
This post illustrates good calvinistic pedagogy for certain scenarios and for certain people. The more scripture passages are dealt with, the more of the big theological picture will emerge. Especially when it dawns on the believer that the doctrine of particular redemption (definite atonement, if you prefer) fits quite comfortable with an already existing general acceptance of penal/substitutionary atonement.

witness said...

Hey Flynn, just so you don't think I ignored you, I said...

"Flynn... I can see how that is a real problem for your position."

The content of your comment which was deleted did not address the point of the post nor did it accurately depict the logic of the example.

The "real problem" became most apparent when your comment was deleted.

NewManNoggs said...

Dan,
I have a question. I have a friend who is a devotee of Jack Hughes and has taken what I think is a rather nonsensical position:
1) Jesus died for everyone.
2) Only the elect will have their sins atoned for.
In other words, Jesus' death and the atonement are two different things. These are "parallel truths" and we cannot necessarily understand how or if they intersect, ala Deut. 29:29.

How would you answer this? It almost seems Gnostic to me.

Thanks!

YnottonY said...

NewManNoggs,

Classically, the term "atonement" had that meaning. It was connected with the forgiveness of sins, and not merely with Christ's sacrifice considered in itself. The Calvinist R. L. Dabney prefers to use the term in that sense. He wrote:

"The word (at-one-ment) is used but once in the New Testament (Rom. 5:11), and there it means expressly and exactly reconciliation. This is proved thus: the same Greek word in the next verse, carrying the very same meaning, is translated reconciliation. Now, people continually mix two ideas when they say atonement: One is, that of the expiation for guilt provided in Christ's sacrifice. The other is, the individual reconciliation of a believer with his God, grounded on that sacrifice made by Christ once for all, but actually effectuated only when the sinner believes and by faith. The last is the true meaning of atonement, and in that sense every, atonement (at-one-ment), reconciliation, must be individual, particular, and limited to this sinner who now believes. There have already been just as many atonements as there are true believers in heaven and earth, each one individual."

R. L. Dabney, The Five Points of Calvinism (Harrisonburg: Sprinkle Publications, 1992), 60.

W. G. T. Shedd uses it in the modern sense, i.e. for Christ's sacrifice by itself.

Both Shedd and Dabney believed Christ's satisfaction was unlimited, but the effectual purpose arising from the decree issues in a limited application. Curiously, then, a moderate Calvinist can believe in Dabney's limited "atonement" and Shedd's unlimited "atonement" at the same time, since they use the term "atonement" in different senses.

I'm not Dan, but I hope that helps :-)

Tony

Martin said...

NewManNoggs,

To successfully describe something as "nonsensical" you have to do so on its own terms not on what you think is being said so I'd say before you can do so you'd have to be sure that exactly the same definitions are being used for:
1. Atonement. (There are some difficulties with this word and it is therefore by no means certain that you and he mean the same thing by it)
2. the precise details of the relationship between Jesus' death and what is meant by 'atonement'.

This is all off-topic of the original post though and so Dan may not want to open this debate up here.

Tax Collector said...

Dan,

Great re-post. And for what it's worth, I understood your point beautifully.

This may sound simple to some folks here but when reading 1 John 2:2 (and subsequent verses) its clear that John is making a general statement of the 'world' meaning those who are obedient to Christ for he says so in the very next verse.

My .02 anyway.

Bill

NewManNoggs said...

Thanks gentlemen. I am sorry if I have taken the meta off topic. That was not my intention.

YnottonY said...

NewManNogg,

Some, such as witness, are suggesting that we've ALL been "off topic," since Dan's main point was to deal with apologetical method, and not with the details of his atonement position. Since some of us think his "atonement" arguments are fallacious [and simplistic], we also, consequently, think they poorly serve Dan's desire to illustrate the need for theological karate maneuvers. We were basically saying that he could have illustrated the need for his methodology some other way, which do not involve the mistakes we think he has committed. We're echoing the Calvinist James Ussher, who said: "Neither is there hope that the Arminians will be drawn to acknowledge the error of their position, as long as they are persuaded the contrary opinion cannot be maintained without admitting that an untruth must be believed, even by the commandment of him that is God of truth, and by the direction of that word, which is the word of truth."

The bottom line is: I still think your question was worth bringing up, even if it was a small digression.

NewManNoggs said...

YnottonY,
Thanks. Only, my purpose was to help my friend understand what I think is an error in his thinking. I happen to agree with Dan's position.
That is the last I will post in this meta, as I don't want to diver it. However, I did want to thank you for your response.
Tim

YnottonY said...

NewManNogg,

I understand. I once held to the same position that Dan presently believes, so I can both 1) sympathize with the underlying concern to guard God's sovereignty and revelatory consistency and 2) sympathize with the concern to view Christ's death as especially [at least] for the elect. Since you still hold to the same position as Dan, you will have to try to convince your friend that Jesus only suffered for the sins of the elect. They can't be faulted for their "atonement" terminology, since it's the classical usage. Further, as my quote proved, there are even Calvinists using the terminology the same way.

Grace to you,
Tony

Martin said...

Bill Tax Collector,
Interesting that, having understood the point, you still want to give your take on 1 John 2:2. So, in similar vein, let me respond by saying that, in reality, everyone approaches a verse like this with their own preconceived ideas. If we're not self-aware of how we do this then as soon as we find a way to make it fit our system we tend to assume that we have understood the verse.

Counter-arguments to your interpretation include:
1. The addition of the 'whole' qualifier which implies universal inclusion
2. John's own use of "whole world" elsewhere in 1 Jn 5:19
3. The "by this we know" in v3. is not referring back to the "whole world" referenced in v2 but to what follows in v3, i.e. those who "keep his commandments". Thus we can see that v3 does not qualify the scope of whole world in v2 as you suggest. The scope of v3 is in fact the same little children to whom John is writing. vv3-5 are a necessary qualification to what John has said in vv1-2 - as though he says "yes there is a propitiation for our sins, but if we claim to know Him and the free gift of His grace then we will act like its true".

Martin

DJP said...

NewManNoggs — been away from lunch, just now have a chance to respond.

The question per se is indeed off-topic; but in keeping with the point of the post, I'd say to ask for a verse that teaches that expressly.

Dropping names of dead guys as a substitute for dealing with Scripture should be met with a shrug and an "I wonder what he thinks now?"

DJP said...

Tax Collector — either the propitiation isn't really a propitiation, or the world isn't everyone without exception. It is certain that John uses "world" in a number of different senses. It is not certain that he uses "propitation" so.

There's no reason to put on John the absurd suggestion that Christ absorbs God's wrath for people who, even at that moment, are dead, beyond hope, and eternally lost under God's wrath, just to protect a cherished tradition.

You saw me do similarly, above, with 1 Timothy 4:10, another text bizarrely pressed into service to render Christ's death powerless (i.e. God sorta saves everyone, but really really saves the elect). Just press the (usually hollow) assertion.

Then they as a rule get lost in word-games, splitting hairs, inventing nuances, hiding behind dead guys (who have by now surely changed their minds in many ways).

It amounts to this: do you affirm that Christ accomplished, by His death, what Scripture says He accomplished?

NewManNoggs said...

Thanks Dan! That is what I was asking for, except that, just as an FYI, Jack Hughes is not dead. He's a Pastor at a rather large church in Burbank, CA. Very good preacher (teaches at Masters Sem.)
Best,
Tim

Bobby Grow said...

Well since nobody has mentioned it, and since theological exegesis is what is on display here; why not just state the obvious, why not state some of the categories that are being worked through here (in enthymemic ways)?

What Christ did was provide objective salvation for all people; now the issue becomes one of subjective appropriation of that salvation for the elect (which 'objectively' in Christ -- Pauline -- we all are).

If we hold to the limited theory (in logico-causal ways) like Dan does; then we must appeal to Nestorian like christological thinking which splits Jesus life in the incarnation into two distinct segments. In other words, the only kind of humanity available for Christ to assume (assumptio carnis was sinful humanity (see II Cor. 5:21). For Dan's theory to work, there would've had to have been (thinking chronologically) a part of humanity that was already sanctified prior to Christ's cross-work. Which would make the cross of Christ really unnecessary, since somewhere in the secret will of God (ad intra) God had already redeemed the elect w/o the atoning work of Christ in "time."

This is the problem that ensues when we try to speak about "election" w/o Christ as its center; which is what the classic view (Dan's) does. If Christ isn't thought of as the electing and elected God (both elect and reprobate for us) then we will end up implying things we, nor scripture just does not want.

YnottonY said...

The problem with how some people interpret 1 Tim. 4:10 [and other passages] is their failure to see how they're converting nouns in to verbs. It doesn't say Christ is SAVING [verb] all men, but especially believers. It says that Christ is the SAVIOUR [noun] of all men, especially those who believe. The idea is this: Christ holds the OFFICE or TITLE of Saviour for all men, as God has appointed him as the sole means by which they can be saved, i.e. they are obligated to look to him for salvation. He holds this OFFICE especially for believers, since they alone are vitally in him through faith and have obtained the promises.

ulfbiggorilla said...

what made this post enjoyable was...well..the point it was making. Allow the lunge, sidestep...mayhem. The example was excellent, because it showed a case where someone overeagerly ("here's this proof text...hayaa!") sacrificed sure footing in exchange for a killing stroke, as Ra's Al Ghul would say. Like Al Ghul, Dan points out the that they don't really want the word to mean what they are saying it means. A little tap of the ice and whooooosh...their argument collapses. (Watch Batman Begins if you don't know what in the world I am talking about)

DJP said...

Tax - I wasn't referring to Hughes, who I don't know.

What matters is Paul's theory of the atonement and death of Christ, by which He actually accomplishes what He and His apostles stated that He came to accomplish — actually to ransom many, to save sinners and the lost, to bring us to God.

Mike Riccardi said...

Wow. This thread is just ridiculous.

Dan, good post. I'm enjoying the picks of those who won the contest.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Allow the lunge. Step aside.

Mayhem.


Sounds good. But it doesn't look like it's working in your fight with YnottonY.

Maybe it's time to do like one of those UFC cage matches where the combatants are on the canvas grappling each other, tangled arms and legs seeking leverage, sweat and stink flying everywhere, arm bars, leg locks, and all sorts of other graceful maneuvers.

Nothing beats watching a Calvinist-Arminian UFC grudge match.

Allow the lunge. Step aside.

Mayhem.


Love it!!

DJP said...

MikeWow. This thread is just ridiculous.

So it isn't just me feeling that way, huh?

Whew.

Flynn said...

Witness says:

Hey Flynn, just so you don't think I ignored you, I said...

"Flynn... I can see how that is a real problem for your position."
Hey Witness,

The content of your comment which was deleted did not address the point of the post nor did it accurately depict the logic of the example.

The "real problem" became most apparent when your comment was deleted.

David:

The "real problem" sounds like a different problem from the original alleged problem if you ask me.

I mean, for some reason I suspect this later reply from you is a dodge. I could be wrong. I had posted initially on Dan's citation of John 11:51-52, by linking to a brief essay of mine where I expose the problematics behind that move.

You counter implied that John 11:51-52 was problematic for my position. Note, you say position, not comment post.

It read to me that somehow Dan's use of Jn 11:51-52 as a delimiter for 1 Jn 2:2 somehow threatened my position.

How?

If you have anything to say about my position you are welcome to table it. I will entertain it and if I can respond.

Take care,
David

Martin said...

DJP:
"Then they as a rule get lost in word-games, splitting hairs, inventing nuances, hiding behind dead guys (who have by now surely changed their minds in many ways)."

Me:
I love the irony for I would say the precision we have to employ and which you bemoan only becomes necessary to respond to strict five pointers such as yourself who seem to rely more on Owen's errors than anything else (Another dead guy who, by your own your argument, should count for nothing).

Well, I can see your mind's made up and it'll get me nowhere so I won't trouble you with the 'nuances' that have lead many to think differently to you on this.

DJP said...

Martin, please do one of the following:

1. Cite every time I have appealed to Owen in this post or meta; or

2. Say these exact words: "It isn't Owen I fear... it is the ghost of Owen!"

Thank you.

NewManNoggs said...

Dan, Witness, et al. I'm sorry that I started this endless trek down the post modern rabbit hole. Please forgive me.
Tim

Flynn said...

I did intend to drop out, but Witness did answer me again. As a result I started thinking about this again.

The problem is, refuting a false dilemma with another set of false dilemmas is never wise. If the Arminian opponent modifies his argument, then the the sort of strategy posited by Dan is doomed.

As to this from Dan:

"...propitiation isn't really a propitiation, or the world isn't everyone without exception."

That trades on ambiguity I think. Christ can be the sacrifice of expiation [or propitiation] and yet God being made propitious (ie reconciled) is a different matter. The latter may depend upon a condition (faith instrumentally effecting justification).

If the condition is not met, then reconciliation is not obtained, even if a sacrifice of expiation was made for that person. That's the nature of penal satisfaction.

Take care,
David
(though dead, they speak)

mike said...

...which then led mike to run and throw himself over the handrail in confused exasperation...

while hoping not to have offended anyone, anywhere...

thanks

mike

Mike Riccardi said...

Which is just stating the Arminian view of the inefficacy of the atonement.

Who says things like that? There's been a propitiation but that doesn't mean God's propitious? That's ludicrous on its face!

"Christ is the perfect satisfaction, but God is not satisfied."

Bliuwahospasfpouha?????

I'm all for precision of terms and careful argumentation. But if they get you saying things like the things you've been saying (including the above) something went wrong somewhere.

DJP said...

Bliuwahospasfpouha?????

Singularly well-put.

witness said...

Flynn,

I am sincerely sorry I caused you to start thinking again. I won't do it again.

Stan McCullars said...

Great post!

Some ridiculous comments. If only a couple of these folks would have been around to help out Luther and Calvin. Apparently the reformers neglected to consider a few things.

Martin said...

Dan,
I didn't say you rely on Owen.

DJP said...

That wasn't one of your choices.

Stan McCullars said...

Martin at 11:47 AM, July 09, 2009

I love the irony for I would say the precision we have to employ and which you bemoan only becomes necessary to respond to strict five pointers such as yourself who seem to rely more on Owen's errors than anything else...

David said...

Looks like none of these fellers grasped your method, Dan. You're still on your feet.

greglong said...

I concur with Grudem, who presents a very balanced discussion of this matter. Although he ultimately comes down on the side of limited atonement, he states:

Finally, we may ask why this matter is so important at all. Although Reformed people have sometimes made belief in particular redemption a test of doctrinal orthodoxy, it would be healthy to realize that Scripture itself never singles this out as a doctrine of major importance, nor does it once make it the subject of any explicit theological discussion. Our knowledge of the issue comes only from incidental references to it in passages whose concern is with other doctrinal or practical matters. In fact, this is really a question that probes into the inner counsels of the Trinity and does so in an area in which there is very little direct scriptural testimony--a fact that should cause us to be cautious. A balanced pastoral perspective would seem to say that this teaching of particular redemption seems to us to be true, that it gives logical consistency to our theological system, and that it can be helpful in assuring people of Christ's love for them individually and of the completeness of his redemptive work for them; but that it also is a subject that almost inevitably leads to some confusion, some misunderstanding, and often some wrongful argumentativeness and divisiveness among God's people--all of which are negative pastoral considerations. Perhaps that is why the apostles such as John and Peter and Paul, in their wisdom, placed almost no emphasis on this question at all. And perhaps we would do well to ponder their example" (Systematic Theology, 603).

witness said...

I do not think John, Peter, or Paul placed a lot of emphasis on this doctrine because of its lack of importance, or doctrinal weight.

Where it is mentioned, it is mentioned with the assuredness of its obvious truth.

You can quote me on that... witness, two s's

CR said...

Hmmm....I never thought about that. Saying to the person, "yeah, I could see how that is a problem for your position." Brilliant. I believe in boxing that's called rope a dope.

I wish I had time to read the 103 comments to see how some of our Arminian friends wiggle out of that one.

Tax Collector said...

Dan:
"..either the propitiation isn't really a propitiation, or the world isn't everyone without exception. It is certain that John uses "world" in a number of different senses. It is not certain that he uses "propitation" so."


"What matters is Paul's theory of the atonement and death of Christ, by which He actually accomplishes what He and His apostles stated that He came to accomplish — actually to ransom many, to save sinners and the lost, to bring us to God."

Couldn't agree more, Dan.

My err came when I allowed myself to get lured off the thread topic (as Martin so kindly pointed out) and interject my 'pre-supposed' thoughts onto the next verse to deduce that the 'world', in reality, translates into the one who are obedient to Christ (Matt 7:21-23), aka the good trees bearing good fruit. I was looking at it from God's point of view.

Thanks again for the great post Dan. I am always edified by coming to this blog.

God bless

Mike Riccardi said...

I wish I had time to read the 103 comments to see how some of our Arminian friends wiggle out of that one.

Frankly, CR, no you don't.

Barbara said...

Mike Riccardi said, "Frankly CR, no you don't."

I agree. My own above comment wasn't really in regards to the post so much as it was to the circular arguments in the thread, especially when it comes to the question of "well was I born in sin or not? When did He save me?" Why it's so hard for learned people to grasp the concept that Christ accomplished redemption on the cross and the Holy Spirit applies it at the point of grace/faith/conversion (and not before) is beyond me, my goodness, if you're redeemed, quit dissecting it to death and just be thankful and praise God for it! People act like the Holy Spirit doesn't even exist or that there is no such thing as having grace in our conversation when dealing with each other. I must quote another dead guy who wrote some little obscure book entitled "All of Grace" here, when he said,

Many poor men and women are illiterate and untrained, and these would find deep thought to be very heavy work. Others are so light and trifling by nature, that they could no more follow out a long process of argument and reasoning, than they could fly. They could never attain to the knowledge of any profound mystery if they expended their whole life in the effort. You need not, therefore, despair: that which is necessary to salvation is not continuous thought, but a simple reliance upon Jesus. Hold you on to this one fact—"In due time Christ died for the ungodly. " This truth will not require from you any deep research or profound reasoning, or convincing argument. There it stands: "In due time Christ died for the ungodly." Fix your mind on that, and rest there.

I know some of the readers here are pastors and they have to dig a bit deeper, but there is a pervading spirit of disdain toward people as he mentions here, still there should be a Christlikeness which includes a gentleness/meekness in picking one's battles, when we try to get so doggoned eggheaded that we ignore the spirit of it all, we do no one any good but only profane the name of He who bought us with His blood. I think the same aforementioned dead guy called them (those who have to be right all the time, among others) "dead professors". It's one thing to contend for the truth - it's another to dissect a thing to death and still only wind up with nothing more than chopped-up, unrecognizeable pieces and parts at the end.

And the demons laugh and high-five each other.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Barbara: "but there is a pervading spirit of disdain toward people as he mentions here, still there should be a Christlikeness which includes a gentleness/meekness in picking one's battles, when we try to get so doggoned eggheaded that we ignore the spirit of it all, we do no one any good but only profane the name of He who bought us with His blood."

Aw c'mon. Boys will be boys. A little fun and mayhem like in

"Allow the lunge. Step aside.

Mayhem."

is just Christian guys sharpening each other's iron.

Barbara said...

I must apologize for the printed 'tone' of that, particularly the first paragraph - that was in the flesh; the rest stands. This is a public forum; the world watches, and while it may be that "boys will be boys", much of that is due to a flesh nature, no? And do not we Christians still have a higher calling to walk in the Spirit so that we - in indulging our lusts for debate - do not fall into public displays of arrogance and thus cause a weaker brother to stumble?

Jacob said...

YnottonY: Your post as 7:33am is very good argument. Just wanted to note that before I make an observation about the last part of it:

"If Christ can be the propitiation for the sins of all of the elect and yet they, when in unbelief, can stand condemned and be subjects of God's wrath, then why can't Christ also be the propitiatory sacrifice for more than the elect?""

My understanding has been that Christ did make propitiation for all the sins of the world, and it is (in part) the rejection of His payment that damns a soul to Hell - for they are sinning by denying the Christ and his gift of salvation, and by doing so, rejecting his lordship.

That's how I look at it: Yes, Jesus paid it all, and all to Him we owe, but the unbeliever refuses that payment and thinks he can earn his salvation and that is his folly.

This understanding acknowledges both Christ's sufficiency in payment and the gospel's effectual call, etc, while not denying the truth of election that is behind the scenes (from our temporal, earthly perspective) that we will only fully grasp in eternity.

Yes, Christ died to make salvation available to all, and it is effective for those who are saved (aka the elect).

Perhaps it's my ignorance, but sometimes I think the theologians among us make things more complicated than they need be. =)

sox said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7t8xwpW8gJQ

Man of the West said...

"Day by Day," which I think is a pretty brilliant strip sometimes...

Yes, it is, but I know what you mean when you say it often ...has objectionable imagery.

More than once I've contemplated pulling the strip, only to have the author/artist turn around and do something brilliant the very next day. Very aggravating--makes it hard to make up your mind. But I think you just helped me do it. I believe I'll go make a change in my layout here in a second.

No offense meant.

None taken. I knew at the outset that that comment might get deleted. But if you've seen the post (and I suspect that you at least glanced over it), I'm sure you understand why I wanted people to be aware of it.

YnottonY said...

Hi Jacob,

Thanks for the compliment. I agree with what you have said.

In my view, when Christ came and died, he expresses both God's secret and revealed will at the same time, and not one without the other. Christ expresses God's secret will in laying his life down especially [not singularly] for the sheep, especially [not singularly] for the church, and especially [not singularly] for his friends. This special and effectual motive in His heart is conjoined with his effectual intercession and the eventual sending of the Spirit to effectually apply the benefits of his death to all of the elect by granting them faith, or the moral ability to believe. His death in and by itself does not save them, or anyone else. Rather, it is his effectual intercession [arising from Trinitarian decretal purpose] and the effectual application by the Spirit operating on the ground of His legal moral deposit [His death] that saves the elect.

Moreover, Christ also expresses God's revealed will in the death He died, so that he really [not hypothetically] suffered sufficiently for the sins of the entire human race. This properly grounds the free and well-meant offer of the gospel to all men, and utterly leaves them without excuse. Something [Christ and his work] is actually offered to them, as it was done for them, and willingly so. As Jonathan Edwards said, "Christ's incarnation, his labors and sufferings, his resurrection, etc., were for the salvation of such as are not elected, in Scripture language, in the same sense as the means of grace are for their salvation; in the same sense as the instruction, counsels, warnings and invitations that are given them, are for their salvation." Or, more powerfully and explicitly, Edwards wrote:

"UNIVERSAL REDEMPTION. In some sense, redemption is universal of all mankind: all mankind now have an opportunity to be saved otherwise than they would have had if Christ had not died. A door of mercy is in some sort opened for them. This is one benefit actually consequent on Christ's death; but the benefits that are actually consequent on Christ's death and are obtained by Christ's death, doubtless Christ intended to obtain by his death. It was one thing he aimed at by his death; or which is the same thing, he died to obtain it, as it was one end of his death."

It's all there in Edwards, i.e. an intended sufficient redemption for all that opens a door of mercy and opportunity for all to be saved. With these things being true, we may accurately say that the only remaining barrier to the salvation of those who reject the gospel is their own moral depravity. And, because of what was done for them, they are doubly-culpable, which could not be the case were there nothing done in Chirst's death for their salvation, or were there no actual good news for them.

YnottonY said...

Nota Bene: The karate move we should make with the Arminians is not to try to prove a negative [Christ did not die for all] after they "lunge," but rather to prove a positive [Christ especially died for some]. There is no place in scripture where it is said that Christ did not die for the non-elect, but there are passages that underline His special motives for his bride, church and friends, etc. Arminians believe that God EQUALLY desires the salvation of all men, so they harp on Christ's death for all in scripture to try to sustain their case and to defeat the Calvinist belief in an effectual or special purpose in God to save only some. We should not try to cause "Mayhem" by arguing that God only desires to save the elect, or that Christ only died for the elect. That's an overreaction. Rather, we should counter with the truth that God especially desires the salvation of all those he has unconditionally elected to eternal life, and Christ expresses that same purpose in his teaching prior to His death, and in His sending of the Spirit to only effectually apply the benefits of his satisfaction to those who receive the grant of faith. As I see it, this is true blackbelt Karate, since it accords with scripture :-)

DJP said...

All becomes clear.

Jacob said...

"All becomes clear," Dan said cryptically.

:D

Sir Aaron said...

DJP:

Great repost. For working so hard, you have my permission to sleep in tomorrow...I wont expect any further posts from you until at least 5AM.

;)

sem said...

What happened here? Some of the comments were so bad I started skimming, almost reaching for duct tape to keep my head from exploding. Sheesh.

Dan, post was awesome. Ensuing mess? Not so much.

DJP said...

Gah!

DUCT tape!

NOW comes the great idea.

/c:

PS - thanks. I was taken aback at how contentious both meta's were this week. I'd have thought Tuesday's post was a complete "duh." Turns out it tweaked some consciences painfully.

sem said...

Been unable to check in for most of this week so I missed all of the "excitement". Just read the other meta. Holy smokes! That one is a big train wreck, too! Complete with hurt feelings and threats of taking toys and going home, (not that anyone would notice).
Sure hope next week is better!

DJP said...

Tu y yo, juntos.

Mark said...

Please be careful to not attempt to define and or wrestle with the sovereignty of the Almighty God. Remember the simple Gospel, John 3:16; For God so loved the world that he gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but will have have everlasting life.
Christ died for those who believed in Him, those who believe in Him and those who will believe in Him. We know there is the elect, the predestined. But what we should be sparring for is not agreement on the nonessentials, but against the forces against our "great commission". Forgive me, but it seems your analogy in hand to hand combat against your "foe", is a part of the same Body that you are an influential part of.

greglong said...

What some view as a "mess" I thought was a thoughtful, helpful discussion.

It's always easier to declare a discussion a "train wreck" than to contribute to it.

But I did enjoy the post, just as I enjoy all your stuff, Dan.

sem said...

Wow Greg, thanks for that.

It looked like the melee was over so I commented to Dan about what a mess it turned out to be, and yes this is one hot mess. Not sure why you took offense since you were only one of MANY people adding their thoughts, most of which veered widely away from the actual point of the post (not necessarily yours, lest you take offense, again). What would be the point in contributing once the train, to continue the metaphor, has left the rails? Not much can be done, hence the expression 'train wreck'.

I think we can agree on at least one thing. It was a good post. Everything after that is up for debate. ;-o

mike said...

Mark said;
But what we should be sparring for is not agreement on the nonessentials, but against the forces against our "great commission".
And this is the point that we must individually and corporately consider, with thought, prayer, and study of the whole word of God.
What is in fact a “nonessential”, and could the sovereignty of God ever possibly be one?
What this whole debate breaks down to is “who acts, and who responds”. If we can ever truly accept that man can in his own power call out to God in such a way that God must react in a predetermined way, then to borrow a line from Dan, Which one is god?
Do we need to be jerks? No. but should we stand by and call for love and unity with others who intentionally or not have denigrated the Almighty Father God to a position of servant to man?
The issue is not easy, the truth of it is hard to understand, and often hard to hear, but that does not change its truthfulness.
We are to love each other, absolutely, but we MUST love God more. The minute we begin to lose that, we are of no use to each other, we have begun to become the world.

ezekiel said...
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DJP said...

I declare this meta's rabbit-trail quotient full.

Mel Kizadeck said...

I love the concept! Put the burden of proof back on the accuser where it rightly should be.

Of course, this example only works on someone who rejects universalism. Otherwise, you're kind of stuck when they respond to your universalist charge with an affirmative.
Then what?

Rick Frueh said...

In our subdivision in Florida, there is one fire chief (fire house) over the entire subdivision. He is the one and only firefighter (and his employees) for the entire housing project. He (and his firefighters) stand bwteen the fire and our homes.

However his expertise and equipment will go unused, even if my house was on fire, unless he and his services are called upon.

"Whosoever will call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."

In the end that fire chief's power is effectually limited to those who will call him, however his services are available and provided to every home.

DJP said...

So God is like a fireman, helplessly waiting for dead, blind, God-hating souls to find it in themselves to let Him do what He cannot?

Rick Frueh said...

Yep, He has provided phones for all those dead, blind, God-hating souls. :)

DJP said...

Ah. A phone in a morgue. And to whom is that useful?

Rick Frueh said...

That is the crux of the different perspectives.

DJP said...

How was it worth taking space in the meta for it, then?

Stan McCullars said...

Dead people using phones is the crux of the different perspectives?

If a perspective depends on dead people using phones it is a perspective that should be abandoned ASAP.

chopstickschan said...

Actually, Dan, I liked the part of this post that had to do with the point of the post, ie, the counter-intuitive strategy of avoiding getting stuck on the defensive. It's been a big help (but you already know that--you know, something to do with a book...somewhere...on a volcanic rock :)

Rick Frueh said...

Taking space in the meta = adding your perspective. I get it, only that which is in conjunction with the OP is accpetable.

The thread is not an exchange, it is an echo chamber. I will remember thet rules. Armianians beware.

DJP said...

I'd tell you to suit yourself, but that's pretty much what you did. Which was the problem.

You made a meaningless statement which, when challenged, you followed with two meaningless statements.

Then the tragic threnody, and the dramatic warning.

Neither entertaining, nor informative, nor contentful.

You have an actual something to say sometime, go for it.

Rick Frueh said...

An expected response. I'll take my ball and go home.

Discuss. :)

* Yep, your responses and dismissive attitudes are entertaining and enlightening as well. You have the corner on trutha and this is your blog. Enjoy.

Stan McCullars said...

What a crybaby!

mikehoskins said...

This is also a good way to evangelize people in cults, or to be politically correct "New Religious Movements."

In fact, I have seen this tactic used and have used it a bit. It is also taught by people who do evangelize Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses.

Let them thrown the lunge, ask them to clarify/explain, ask them if they see how it harms their position, and show them the verse in context.

For example, a Mormon will bring up 1 Cor 8:5 in the KJV (they are a King James only group):
"For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,)".

Let them do it and let them explain their position.

Then, ask them if they know that this verse and the surrounding verse are actually a defense against "many gods".

For most Mormons, all you have to do then is go back to verse 1, read up to at least verse 6, explain the passage, and watch their expression.

Since they are usually evangelizing in pairs, find the rookie of the two and have him read and explain the surrounding verses.

All the while, you are praying for their salvation. You are also praying for your own attitude (gentleness and respect, instead of pride).

In fact, virtually any Mormon response goes like this. They really don't understand context, nor do they understand Biblical definitions of words.

The context of surrounding verses in Scripture really defend themselves.

Kiyai!

DJP said...

Exactly. Excellent. Perfect.

Similarly, when I've had JWs tell me that Christ is not God, but the Son of God. I ask if they have a son. Usually they do. Then I ask whether their son knows that they don't think he's fully human, because he is son of a human.

Or when they point to 1 Corinthians 11:3, that the head of Christ is God. I ask if their wives know they think they're not fully human, because their husband is their head.

You've got it, exactly.

Tim Brown said...

Dan, thanks for this.

All too often I sucker myself with the frontal assault when trying to make a point (usually to someone who just wants debate).

We study something and we understand the forest down to the tree because we've walked it so often. Sometimes, it's just better to back up and show the general fallacy.

It really ticks me off with myself when I do this. I recently had a discussion on facebook with an atheist. I told him I wanted "proof" that Darwin had ever lived. *scientific* evidence for God. I told him "I don't believe Darwin existed. I want scientific *proof* he existed!".

His reply was "The only way to prove anything is by Mathematics!"

I *should* have seen that and grabbed it but didn't. I *could* have asked him "Ok, prove that particular claim....mathematically!"

DUH!

Again, your post is well presented. Thank you!

DJP said...

Good point and good illustration, Tim. Usually, my first impulse is frontal. Takes a bit of (unnatural) coolness and thought to come back the other way.

I've done both in just this meta.

/c:

Phil said...

I think the lesson here is that if you are a first degree black belt (read: high Calvinist) you had better not pick a fight with the second degrees (Classic Calvinists).
Supralapsariansim and it's dichotomous world view fails again, Sorry Dan.

DJP said...

Really? Who propounded that?

Tim Brown said...

Sorry Dan. I just noticed my post had an error in it. My amanuensis has since been fired.

The one line in there is incomplete. I *meant* to say "I told him I wanted "proof" that Darwin had ever lived. This is because he wanted *scientific* evidence for God."

So much for inerrancy in my comment posts.

Phil said...

The idea that the atonement of Christ has no value to the reprobate is a logical necessity of Supralapsarianism. When people argue that the sacrifice of Christ had no effect for, and was not intended for the reprobate they show the influence of SL.
If not for SL there is no reason Christ could not have paid equally for all, but made effectual by the Spirit for only some.
In point of fact I suspect you to be a believer in unlimited atonement Dan, despite your protest- else why are the wicked not condemned on their first sin to hell as justice deserves? If it is not Christ purchasing them a pardon (however temporary) on the cross then what is it that permits them daily grace?

DJP said...

While supra's may hold that, are they necessarily the only ones? On what authority?

Are you saying that Christ fully satisfied justice for everyone's sins, including the hopeless already in Hades awaiting sentencing to Hell?

What did Christ's death accomplish?

lawrence said...

I didn't read all the comments (maybe only the first 80 or 90) so sorry if someone already said this, but it does seem interesting to me, Dan, that you would only use this line of reasoning with universalists, since, at least in my very limited experiance, universalists rarely use the 1 John 2:2 verse to support their position. That verse is more often used by 4 pt. calvinists, or non-universalists Arminians.

Wow I'm an awful speller somedays.

DJP said...

There are universalists who believe everyone will be saved; then there are those who think that in some way Jesus died for everyone, to offer salvation to everyone - did everything that needs to be done. All that's missing is our part, deciding for Christ or adding our faith.

What I'm talking about took in both.

More, I'm talking about an approach to disputes.

Kirby L. Wallace said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
one busy mom said...

ok then....back to the intent of the original post...

Lunge, sidestep, mayhem What a great technique - and Dan, you make it sound so easy! I always get drawn into the full frontal attack....which accomplishes little, leaves eyes rolling, and me exhausted.

I came out of Catholicism many years ago, and seem to be surrounded by those who want to argue its tenants. (Most probably don't want to hear what I have to say - they're just hoping to defend it or drag me back into it) But, IF I could really use this technique well - it would be a great way to shorten long useless arguements and redirect the conversation back to the issue of their salvation or at least force them to defend their theology from Scripture (which can't be done).

I would like to see more examples of this fleshed out to get a better feel for how I can apply it. Like Mikehoskins example with the Mormans. Maybe a future post..?? Something along the lines of: given lunge 'a', use mayhem 'b'.

If you take requests....

DJP said...

That's what pastors do: make the impossible look easy.

Just kidding, of course. Oh, it isn't easy. In case I've not made it clear, this isn't natural for me, either. I realize I've done both in this very meta — responded frontally when I should have used the very technique I'm talking about. Then when I did, you see that the challenger undid himself pretty quickly.

You know, that's actually a great idea. If you remain a regular reader, you'll see that I already have set examples in posts (the Next! ones sometimes are such) and in metas. I will try to keep your request in mind and do something more focused about it. After I finish the book, probably.

one busy mom said...

Thanks!

I am a pretty regular reader of posts and meta...I learn tons here. I was thinking of the NEXTS! as I read your post - I always thought they were clever, it just never clicked that this was something I could do.

My default approach would be more "dog and stick", they lob the stick - I run, fetch, and return. Game continues till they get bored and wander off. Nothing gets accomplished. (sigh)

Will stay tuned, and can't wait for the post!

Phil said...

Thanks for asking that Dan, I have mulled over your comment 'Did Jesus pay for the sins of people (say who lived in China in 1000BC) who were already beyond the gospel' quite a bit lately, hence the delay.

I think the response is 'Yes' He did. Else, how were they afforded any common grace during their lifetime? That puts the burden back on you to show me how God can be merciful apart from the cross.
In any case you are right, Karate debate is fun.

DJP said...

Yes, often the blow isn't immediately felt. Until then, it can seem fun.

So these people are suffering in torment for sins Jesus already died for once?

Phil said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
DJP said...

Let's keep the conversation within the meta.

Phil said:

Yes, the people suffer for sins already paid for, which is what Ynottony has already said in an early post.....

See also Jude 5, whereby God saves, and then destroys. You can cross the Red Sea, but unless you cross the Jordan as well you won't make it into the promised land.

Now what about answering my query por favor?


You are saying, then, that Christ's sacrifice for them was rejected by the Father?

Phil said...

No in the sense that God has already accepted Christ's death for satisfaction of His wrath, which we see because Christ has risen.
Yes in the sense that God the Father did not accept the sacrifice on behalf of the man because he died in unbelief- discharge of sin is contingent on condition of faith. If no faith then God will require a payment from the man just as if Christ had not died for him. Otherwise the elect are saved before faith.
But this has been offered up in this meta already.

DJP said...

Christ's actual sacrifice merely accomplished contingent redemption, which depended on another's act to become actual?

DJP said...

Just as a sidenote: this post is nearing the bottom of the page, and thus is about to be closed.

Phil said...

100% yes. Although 'another's act' happens to be the Spirit's regeneration.
Close up the meta then, I think it's gone about as far as it needs to go.

DJP said...

So the Spirit regenerates all for whom Christ dies?

Or, put another way, Christ died only for those whom the Spirit will regenerate?

Or, put another way, Christ died only for the elect?

Rita Martinez said...

Not only was that extremely hilarious but quite educational :) thank you, will keep it in mind for future reference..I did some Karate-Do myself in highschool, never thought i could use it in exegesis :P

DJP said...

?!

Who's "Rita Martinez"?

:^P

Rita Martinez said...

aparently i am since the State of Pennsylvania does't allow me to change my last name just yet :'(