22 September 2009

The particular-redemption-believers-can't-know-Christ-died-for-them dodge (NEXT! #18)

by Dan Phillips

Challenge: If you don't believe that Jesus atoned equally for all the sins of every individual without exception, you can't call anyone to Christ for salvation, or even know that He died for you.

Response A: Hunh. Well, I guess that's true... in a way. I mean, apart from Jesus calling all men to come to Him, saying that none can come except the Father should draw Him, promising that He would never cast out the one who did come to Him, identifying these ones as the ones the Father gave Him to save, assuring that they would never perish nor be snatched from His hand and that the Father loves them just as He loves Christ — apart from that, I guess we really don't have anything solid to stand on. You know, beyond Christ's specific, conditional promises.

Response B: Hm. But if you do believe He equally atoned for the sins of Judas, the Beast, Peter and you, you don't have any assurance that your sins won't send you to Hell. Poor trade-off, that.

(Proverbs 21:22)
Dan Phillips's signature

85 comments:

SandMan said...

You know, beyond Christ's specific, conditional promises.

I like response A...longer than the traditional "NEXT!," but a very encouraging reminder of our security in Christ based upon His own promises. Great post!

ajlin said...

You make an excellent point about general atonement offering no basis for assurance.

It also gives a poor foundation for a call to repentance. I remember a video I saw of an evangelist outside a club in (I think) L.A. He was telling a guy, "Jesus died for your sins," to which the guy responded, "Great!" and clearly had the intention of going to sin some more, since all his sins had been paid for in advance. This just to say: if atonement is general, then it is detachable from the rest of God's saving work, and some people DO make the logical connection between general atonement and universalism.

olan strickland said...

Very good! Both responses nail the issue.

Isn't it very interesting that Judas was never a genuine believer and the reason was because of particular redemption and sovereign purpose?

Hayden said...

I'm waiting for a particular commenter to drop on by ;--)

witness said...

I'm with SandMan... response is A just... well... it gives me goosebumps. I just know it's going to grate on some, but then that's what Scriptures always does to those who just aren't happy with the True Gospel.

stratagem said...

Dan, am I allowed to carry a note card with response A on it? Or would that diminish the 'snappy comeback' aura?

DJP said...

Stratagem, ain't much makes me happier, blogwise, than folks taking seed I put out and sowing it far and wide.

stratagem said...

OK, consider it done, then!

Frank Turk said...

I think response "B" is the one which should really make people think hard about the original question. If Jesus' atonement is an atonement for every single person prima facie, then it's not a divine assurance: it's just an offer -- unless every human is saved.

We have actually covered this ground somewhere. It's funny that it comes up anyway.

Respectabiggle said...

There's too much junk bolted on to that revolver.

DJP said...

Right, Frank. Somehow the model that says God has benevolent feelings for everyone that don't issue in salvation for anyone seems grander than the model that God sets His love invincibly on some and unfailingly saves them.

SandMan said...

And now I must agree with Respectabiggle. Looks neat though.

DJP said...

Yeah, but the point is it is really, really targeted.

Jugulum said...

I like B for its simplicity, but both are pointing us in the right direction: What is our assurance that Christ's death will actually save us in particular?

In Universal Atonement, Christ's death for us doesn't imply that we will be saved! (Unless you're a universalist, which most aren't.)

Those who come to Christ will not be cast out; those who trust in him are united with him in his death & resurrection. That's the promise of God. A Calvinist's assurance that Christ died for me is as secure as anyone's assurance that God delivers his promises.

This objection is as silly as someone saying, "How can you be sure that God really adopted you into his family and justified you and sanctifies you after you repented?" It's as silly as asking anyone who emphasizes Word and sacrament, "How can you be sure that God's grace is really at work in you, through Word and sacrament?"

olan strickland said...

There's too much junk bolted on to that revolver.

Yeah! But can't you see that little red dot over the heart of unlimited atonement?

John said...

General atonement at least says you are saved NOW, and whether you continue to be so is up to you.

Limited atonement says you may not even be saved now, because those who fall away were never saved despite all appearances to the contrary

olan strickland said...

John,

Read John and 1 John!

Jugulum said...

John,

You aren't a universalist, right?

So general atonement says you are saved now, if and only if you trust in Christ.

Particular redemption also says you are saved now, if and only if you trust in Christ.


Also, general atonement doesn't imply you can lose your salvation. Those are two separate ideas.

David said...

It kinda seems like most Christians believe it until you put a name on it and stick it in the middle of a flower.

Jugulum said...

David,

Depends on how specific you're being. Probably most Christians think, "Only Christians are redeemed." But they probably also think, "Christ died for everyone"--with an unclear notion of what "died for" means.

DJP said...

I understand the emotional appeal of the universal atonement view. I mean to talk about this element in the Bible conference. We like for people to try. It's okay if they fail, so long as they try.

So the image of God trying to save everyone, and completely failing if they don't help Him out, is more comforting than the Biblical picture of Him who has mercy on whom He has mercy.

Stefan said...

Although I am still committed to the doctrine of limited atonement, let's be clear that a belief in universal atonement does not necessarily preclude belief in total depravity, unconditional election, irresistible grace, or perseverance of the saints.

It may or may not be a logical contradiction—it does not appear to make sense that Jesus Christ died for the sins of those who are destined to eternal torment—but it is still the Father's sovereign will to have mercy on whom He will have mercy, and compassion on whom He will have compassion.

***

In the end, whether we believe in limited or unlimited atonement, we will not find assurance if we start off by trying to answer the question, "Did Christ die for my sins?" We will find it by knowing that if we "confess with our mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in [our] heart that God raised Him from the dead, we will be saved" (Romans 10:9). And starting from that premise, if we so confess and believe, then we can know that Jesus Christ did indeed die for our sins.

Stefan said...

...Which I used to view as a mere intellectual proposition (Romans 10:9, that is), but which has become very sweet assurance to me over the last few days.

Chad V. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chad V. said...

Oh, John has an anonymous profile. Never mind.

rebecca said...

If Jesus' atonement is an atonement for every single person prima facie, then it's not a divine assurance: it's just an offer -- unless every human is saved.

Aha! I've always wondered why some people look to their own faith for assurance. When that doesn't work well for them—because who has perfect faith?—and I try to explain that true security lies in the perfection of Christ's work—his work is perfect; our faith doesn't have to be—they can't understand what I'm getting at.

Your statement explains why this is. For them, it's only their faith that distinguishes them from those who aren't saved because Christ's work is for everyone.

Johnny Dialectic said...

I agree with Stefan's comments. Well said. The assurance comes from knowing the biblical conditions, which are not hidden. As long as we confidently preach the message of salvation to all, without reservation, I don't have a problem with the stated view of atonement. Theologically, I don't accept it, but it's much more important to preach the gospel to all.

DJP said...

Yeah, that's what's uniquely bizarre about the recent weirdness. You can't really preach Jesus or the Gospel (we're told) unless you guarantee your hearer that, if he rejects Jesus and goes to Hell to suffer forever under the wrath of God for his sins, Jesus still will have died for him.

Huh?

Tim Brown said...

You know, it was some time back that I became firmer in the Doctrines of Grace. I was reading through Pink's "Sovereignty of God" when the lights started coming on for real.

It was then that it dawned on me that, yes, it may be that I'm not elect...even though I do see reason to believe I'm regenerate.

It was a bit scary at first. But what strange comfort I got when I realized that I was willing to accept God on HIS terms, not mine. I had caught myself saying something like "Lord, You are the one in control, not me. And I believe You have saved me. But even if I am wrong, that doesn't change the fact that you are Sovereign and it is Your decision".

It was like a kingdom fell that day. And it was reassuring when it fell.

donsands said...

Tony Evans would say Jesus died for all your sins, but one, and that one is your unbelief, or rejecting that He died for all your sins.

Limited Atonement, or Particular atonement is very clear to me to be biblical, and yet it is quite deep with its roots of truth.

The Cross of our Lord seems so puny to the non-reformed friends of mine, if we say that Christ died for the sins of His people, those the Father has chosen for His Son before the foundation of the universe.
It is like Captain Quint's fingernails on the chalk board in Jaws to many of my friends. I'm just saying.

christianlady said...

Just had a pastor facebook a bit about this, he didn't like a MacArthur sermon on these very points. He thinks that you can go out and preach and draw people in by using methods that these people like. If we only attract them, some will develop faith. He also believes that we have free will to resist or accept Christ.

Phil said...

Where is Ytonnoty or the rest of my Classic Calvinists to represent?

The problem if Christ only atones for the sins of the elect is that John 3:16 makes no sense- how are the non-elect spared any grace at all apart from the cross?
Dan you still owe me this explanation from your ju-jitsu meta.

No question Christ does not atone in the same way for Peter that He did Judas, but there also ought to be no question that He did buy up all the rebellious people with His atoning sacrifice, to their greater condemnation.

DJP said...

John 3:16 only makes sense if Jesus fully atoned for the sins of people who suffer forever because of their sins... that He fully atoned-for?

Not tracking with you there, hoss.

And that is far afield from the point of this Next!

Jugulum said...

Phil,

I can understand it when people look at John 3:16 and think "God so loved the world" means "God desired to save everyone." And they go to something like Prevenient Grace.

But if you're a 4-pointer, what are you suggesting for the meaning of John 3:16? "God so loved every individual, that he sent Jesus to save some and bring greater condemnation on the others"?

Johnny Dialectic said...

And we all know what happened to Quint.

Phil said...

It's also worth mentioning that this Next answer fails. To the statement that you must know if you are elect before you can receive faith you offer another impossible difficulty for the Arminian. The slight of hand is clever to be sure, but all you did was put a rope around their neck and drag them into the pit of unanswerable questions alongside you, so now BOTH sides are deadlocked, but neither has a clear answer.
As for part A, you have demonstrated that all are invited to come, but this in no way answers the problem that remains, why should I come unless it's for me? Your answer is, come and don't worry about it, but that does not answer the difficulty. It would be like asking someone to get in a car with you for a drive across town that they know has no engine. There is no motive in the first place to even make an attempt.

And lastly, if Christ atones from the cross then we must be saved from the cross regardless of our belief. If you then say that you need faith before you are saved you fall into your own pit that Christ's death 'has no effect.'

Phil said...

Jug,
The meaning I think was that God desires all men to be saved ad extra, so He sent His son to be an atoning sacrifice for their sins that they may freely believe and be saved if they want. When they spurn His offer they bring greater condemnation on themselves.

John 3:16 can't mean the 'world of the elect' because then we have elect not believing, so it cannot be talking about Gods love ad-intra.

DJP said...

Sorry you don't like them, Phil, but you haven't even come close to demonstrating a defect in the posts themselves. Christ calls me to come, promises that if I come he will save me, keep me, never cast me out, that is absolutely everything I need to know in order to come.

Next?

Perhaps you haven't heard a Calvinist explain the atonement, which is not the topic of this post? We believe that God who gave His Son for us will with Him freely give us all things (Romans 8:32), which necessarily includes saving faith.

Powerful verse for particular redemption. Not so great for other views.

Jugulum said...

Phil,

From this line, I got the impression that you're a 4-point Calvinist:
"Where is Ytonnoty or the rest of my Classic Calvinists to represent?"

Did I misunderstand?

Phil said...

Christ calls me to come, promises that if I come he will save me, keep me, never cast me out, that is absolutely everything I need to know in order to come.
Agreed. And so long as you don't alsolearn that there are those He is not willing to come, because He was not willing to die for you will be alright. It is a call to ignorance of election as much as it is to evangelism in the hands of a High Calvinist.
Therefore, the text above stands as a testament to Classical Calvinism.

And Jug, I'm the same kind of Calvinist as Dabney, whatever you want to call him you could rightly call me as well.

DJP said...

Absolutely not, Phil. Try to focus, please. The post is about a specific and particular challenge; please read it. It would work absolutely just as fine if the unbeliever heard the Biblical case particular redemption as if he heard about election.

lawrence said...

I like response B. Not 100% sure it answers the challenge, but I like it. Well said.

Sir Aaron said...

He thinks that you can go out and preach and draw people in by using methods that these people like. If we only attract them, some will develop faith. He also believes that we have free will to resist or accept Christ.


This where free will always degenerates. Because it's up to man to decide, we must use marketing techniques to basically deceive people to get them to come. After they come, you then slip them portions of the gospel until they don't realize they're believers! At least some of them, anyways.

I do this with my kid and her vegetables. I hide them in the food. It works for a while, until she figures out what I'm doing...then my problem is worse. Not only do I have to force her to eat vegetables but I also have to convince her that I'm not trying to sneak something into the food she does like.

Benjamin Nitu said...

Response C: So, Jesus suffered more than He had to? He took on more sins than He had to?

Response D: Since Jesus atoned equally for all the sins of every individual without exception, then we're all saved. (universalism)

DJP said...

Benjamin, those may be responses to challenges of particular redemption, per se. This is more specific.

Phil said...

Dan I am tuned into your NEXT, perhaps you are not tuned into what I'm saying. Look at the problem you are facing:
The challenge- if everyone does not have an equal opportunity presented them by the universal atonement on the cross to come to Christ then atonement is only for the elect.
You must then find out if you are elect before you can accept this faith, because this faith is not for everyone, it's for the elect. The problem is you must figure out if you are elect or not before you can believe and be saved.
Your answer A: who cares? Pretend as if you are elect and then be saved.
This begs the question, why isn't atonement both universal and particular?
Answer B: Arminians have a problem in that if the gift given to Peter was given to Judas there is no gift.
But was the only difference the cross? Or was the difference also in the gift of faith? The answer disintegrates even as you give it.

It's not a silver bullet like some of the other NEXTs. Its more of a blunderbust that has the powder overstuffed in it.

DJP said...

Perhaps, Phil, but if so you haven't yet shown how. You've just indicated you're not getting it.

As we've said many, many times, figuring out whether you're elect or not is no part of the Gospel, and completely unnecessary.

Christ says come. Come, and He will accept, save and keep you.

Don't come, and you have no hope whatever.

That is absolutely every last gram of everything you need to know (about Christ's invitation) as a lost sinner.

And yes, the Cross in God's eternal plan makes all the difference, as I just pointed out. God saves. He doesn't save with my help.

Hayden said...

Phil,

If you haven't read the book "Sinners in the Hands of a Good God" by David Clotfelter, pick up a copy and read chapter 5. It is excellent and answers all of the questions you have asked. Enjoy the whole book after. It is very good.

bp said...

You must then find out if you are elect before you can accept this faith - phil

That's backwards. You find out your elect after you have faith. Faith isn't something you choose to "accept". It's a natural result of being enlightened, which is what God does in regeneration.

And I'd say people who are dead in sin and following the course of this world don't generally (ever) sit around trying to figure out if they're elect or not.

Phil said...

Well I will make this my last post then, no point in being contentious.
Christ says come. Come, and He will accept, save and keep you.

That is absolutely every last gram of everything you need to know (about Christ's invitation) as a lost sinner.


It's not everything. You need to know who the salvation is being offered to. You presume yourself, but that would mean He has already procured your salvation. Is that a fair assessment? If you believe in a universal atonement then the answer is yes. If you do not the answer is 'well maybe, if you are elect'.
But if maybe, then how can He save you or make good on His offer? What assurance do I have this is really for me? Answer: none, but pretend we didn't have this discussion, come to Christ, then later we can talk this over.

A consistent belief in particular only redemption on the cross means that there is only enough room in Gods house for you if you are elect. No amount of saying 'election has nothing to do with this discussion' can bear you away from the fact that without election you have no faith, and without faith you have no election. It's a closed system until you act like a universal atonement is true and resolve the difficulty.

Aric said...

I like the NEXT! Series, as it makes me ponder things – and gives me good stuff to use when discussing issue with friends and family. What comes to mind for this challenge is the self-centered bent that may or may not be intentional.

Christ says we are sinners, we need a Savior, and he is that Savior. Come. The challenger replies, “Yeah, but what’s in it for me. How do I know it is for me. If I cannot be assured that it is for me, then I don’t want to come.”

Perhaps I am the only one who sees it that way, but when I hear the challenge of today’s NEXT!, there seems to be no gratitude, no humility, no gratefulness. Just the empty ring of “What about me.”

DJP said...

I think I've figured out your problem, Phil.

You never read the post!

See, that's the preferred order. Read the post, then comment.

Usually (as in this case) the post anticipates and heads off a lot of questions and issues — like yours.

All I need to know as a sinner is that Christ bids me come, and if I do, He will accept me.

All I need to know as an evangelist who believes in unconditional election and particular redemption is that Christ bids all men come, and if they do, He will accept them.

So I bid them come in His name, with the absolute assurance that, if they come, He will accept them.

Flynn said...

Phil says: “Where is Ytonnoty or the rest of my Classic Calvinists to represent?”

YnottonY is not here, I will take a stab from the Classic Calvinist perspective.

I looked at the claim and didn't think that much to it.

The challenge was:

“If you don't believe that Jesus atoned equally for all the sins of every individual without exception, you can't call anyone to Christ for salvation, or even know that He died for you.”

David: The classic Calvinist would not make that statement, because, for example, one can “call” a man to repentance, but perhaps not have a proper rational or Scriptural basis for the call. Who knows.

One may simply assert, 1) “I hold to limited atonement” and 2) “I hold that all men are called to come to Christ.” They may not be able to make those propositions explicable, and one would need to draw out a lot of tacit and implicit assumptions in order to demonstrate their logical incompatibility. That would take a discussion, which is a process, but which I doubt could be carried on here.

To the proffered responses:

Dan: “Response A: Hunh. Well, I guess that's true... in a way. I mean, apart from Jesus calling all men to come to Him, saying that none can come except the Father should draw Him, promising that He would never cast out the one who did come to Him, identifying these ones as the ones the Father gave Him to save, assuring that they would never perish nor be snatched from His hand and that the Father loves them just as He loves Christ — apart from that, I guess we really don't have anything solid to stand on. You know, beyond Christ's specific, conditional promises.”

David: Here the response simply presents an expanded form of proposition 1) above. It simply says, as I read it: '”Well irrespective of the “challenge,” Scripture says men are called.”

However, response A has no real value for furthering resolution to the problem at hand.

Dan: “Response B: Hm. But if you do believe He equally atoned for the sins of Judas, the Beast, Peter and you, you don't have any assurance that your sins won't send you to Hell. Poor trade-off, that.”

David: Response B is more interesting as it posits a positive counter-challenge. However, its flawed. Any advocate of a universal satisfaction should not say that the satisfaction intrinsically secures assurance or salvation. As others have said, assurance is grounded in the promises of God. The satisfaction of Christ is the material grounds by which a man is saved and may find assurance. Assurance proper, however, comes various points, the testimony of God as revealed in his Word, the assuring work the Spirit, even, the reflex act of faith and penitence, etc etc. And all believe that the satisfaction comes with a condition “faith,” such that “no faith, no assurance of salvation.” Thus an advocate of universal satisfaction should only say, the satisfaction with faith sustains personal assurance. Of course, other conditions are also present and assumed in what I say here.

And so as someone said above, the question of personal knowledge is a little complex, as even one for whom Christ effectually died for, may not have assurance, as they may be unsaved, or as they may have doubts even as a believer.

The “responses” are really non-responses in my opinion. For as I said, they do not advance the resolution of the issues unless one begins to probe the basis of the challenge that a limited expiation cannot ground a universal offer of the Gospel.

David

Jugulum said...

Phil,

I can sort of follow your logic. I cannot find in it any reason that this is not a sufficient answer: God's promise is that all who come will be saved.

If someone who hears the Gospel wonders, "How can I be sure that there will be room for me in God's house, if I come?", then the answer is: "Because God has promised it."

Jugulum said...

Dan,

*high five*

DJP said...

So you find them insufficient because they don't respond to a question that wasn't asked? Yeah, I suppose they don't.

But they do both respond, directly and sufficiently, to the challenge treated in the post.

Kind of you to underline the validity of Response B. You can't buy endorsements like that. A "universal satisfaction" that doesn't actually satisfy God is pretty wretched grounds for... well, anything.

bp said...

Why would you assume the offer isn't made to those who are not elect? If I know for a fact that my angry teen (hypothetical)will refuse to accept my offer to help with their homework, does that mean my offer isn't a genuine offer?

The assurance that you have that it is really for you is that you believe His promises, that His Spirit testifies to your spirit that you are a son, and that you see evidences of His grace in your life. All 3.

DJP said...

My last was to Flynn or David, or whatever his name is.

Aric, actually, here's the thing: I have never heard — nor heard of — a non-Christian trying to use this dodge.

It's a complete fabrication by (in my experience) an extremely small group of folks in desperate search for a knockout blow against the Scriptural doctrine of an effectual atonement.

bp said...

Here's another way to look at it: If I know for a fact that my angry teen is going to rebelliously refuse my offer (invitation) to have dinner with me tonight, if I still ask, is it not a genuine offer unless I have bought all the ingredients and made preparations for the dinner?

Mike Riccardi said...

BP gets Phil's problem.

You need to know who the salvation is being offered to. You presume yourself, but that would mean He has already procured your salvation. Is that a fair assessment?

The answer is not, "Well, maybe." The answer is a flat-out, "No." Salvation is offered to all, elect and non-elect alike. Only those who are born again by the sovereign grace of God (or, in the language of the original post, aka John 6: only those whom the Father draws/calls) will believe and thus have life.

The response to this is usually: "Well that's not a genuine offer on God's part, because He's not taking the steps necessary to give the unbeliever the opportunity to choose."

The first problem with that response is that it necessarily assumes God owes the sinner something. Of course no one admits to believing this, but to be consistent your position requires this.

The second problem with that response is that it ignores Scripture. It is reality that any person in all the world who believes in Jesus as the Son of God and Savior from sin (cf. John 3:16ff) will indeed not perish, but have eternal life. That is a universal reality. The fact that some are unwilling doesn't change that reality one bit.

bp said...

Totally right, Mike. There's always the assumption that God owes the sinner something in this kind of thinking. Like even though He knows for a fact that no angry, rebellious sinner who hates Him will ever come to Him, He's still obligated to shed His blood on their behalf in order to make it a legit offer.

Relating that to my anaology, it would be like calling my offer to my teen to come to dinner a sham offer because I didn't go buy the ingredients and make the supper. Why would I do such a thing if I already know they won't come? But that doesn't mean the invite wasn't genuine.

Flynn said...

Hey Dan,

part 1

My name is David. Flynn is my nic. I am an old friend of Phil's.

Two points of clarification, in what follows, I posit 1) my responses from the perspective of the classic-moderate Calvinist position, and 2) I am focusing on the line from the challenge: "you can't call anyone to Christ for salvation..." I am, for the most part, using the ideas behind "call" and "offer" interchangeably.

I made a mistake when I replied to your post. I forgot to do something which helps me in tracking the argument under discussion. Its not infallible, but it helps.

Let me go back to the original post.

The challenge was:

"Challenge: If you don't believe that Jesus atoned equally for all the sins of every individual without exception, you can't call anyone to Christ for salvation, or even know that He died for you."

If I paraphrase that claim: "if you do not believe that Christ died for all, then 1) you cant call anyone to come to Christ and/or 2) know that Christ died for you.

Your first counter seemed to me to read as:

Response A: Hunh. Well, I guess that's true... [etc etc] ...in a way. I mean, apart from Jesus calling all men to come to Him, saying that none can come except the Father should draw Him, ou know, beyond Christ's specific, conditional promises.

David: I truncated the response for brevity. That reads to me as counter-asserting that you can call because of Christ's conditional promises. This corresponds to my proposition 1) in my earlier comment.

The second response: "Hm. But if you do believe He equally atoned for the sins of Judas, the Beast, Peter and you, you don't have any assurance that your sins won't send you to Hell. Poor trade-off, that."

David: This response does not actually deal with the original challenge, but offers a counter-assertion that basically says something like "Well you got problems too, in your schema, if Christ died for all, then you cannot have assurance that your sins will be forgiven and saved" etc..

I then proffered two basic responses. The second response does not refute the challenge but changes the subject. The first one simply asserts a counter-proposition without actually addressing the logic of the challenge in any substantive way. At most it dismisses it as irrelevant. However doing that will not convince the thoughtful challenger.

Flynn said...

part 2

Now Dan replies to my comments.

Dan: So you find them insufficient because they don't respond to a question that wasn't asked? Yeah, I suppose they don't.

David: Not exactly. If we focus on the one point that limited atonement is incompatible with the universal call of the Gospel, then your responses didn't address that, but just side-stepped it. See reason below.

Dan says: But they do both respond, directly and sufficiently, to the challenge treated in the post.

David: well if we try to be generous to an Arminian challenger, she is really asserting that you cannot properly account for these truths or premises. What she is really saying is that you cannot meaningfully call all men on the basis of a limited atonement.

I know if I made such a claim, that would be my intention.

If I am right on why the Arminian would make such a claim, then no, I really don't think you dealt with the challenge apart from a bare counter-assertion, which does not account for the compatibility.

All you did was assert that you are warranted in making the call. However, does that not deal with the implied conditional statement, “If limited atonement is true, you cannot call all men to Christ...”

Dan: Kind of you to underline the validity of Response B. You can't buy endorsements like that.

David: I am not sure that I endorsed it.

Dan: A "universal satisfaction" that doesn't actually satisfy God is pretty wretched grounds for... well, anything.

David: As a statement, that really doesn't do anything Dan. I now know how you feel. :-) But the logic of the question has not been addressed. What is more, from the classic Calvinist perspective, its simply a case that such a demand--that the satisfaction must carry within itself a self-applying effficacy for all whom it was made--is just a wrong headed assertion and one which cannot be sustained biblically.

As an aside, I am not sure these little “rebuttals” to Arminians are actually effective in persuading a thoughtful critical that they are wrong. At best, they rather seem quite pyrrhic in the final analysis (if all you want to achieve is a refutation of some off the cuff remarks by Arminians).

Thanks
David

Flynn said...

Mike says: Why would you assume the offer isn't made to those who are not elect?

Mike: If I know for a fact that my angry teen (hypothetical)will refuse to accept my offer to help with their homework, does that mean my offer isn't a genuine offer?

David: The question is, is the offer underwritten, or validated, or indexed, or grounded, (I am trying to capture a few possible ways of expressing the point for clarity's sake) by something within the offerer or within the offeree?

I would say what makes the offer valid, sincere, grounded, etc, because it is grounded, warranted, indexed in something the offerer does or in the nature of the thing offered. In this case, of course, I bypass the simple human offer per se, but direct our attention to the divine offer made in and through the human offer.

I would not say what makes the offer sincere is ever underwritten by whatever can be found or done in the offeree, to whom the offer is made. Make sense?

So with this in mind, you may offer sincerely something to your angry teen. And indeed, this has no relevance to the challenge that with a limited satisfaction a sincere offer cannot be sustained, grounded etc. Make sense?

Mike says:
The assurance that you have that it is really for you is that you believe His promises, that His Spirit testifies to your spirit that you are a son, and that you see evidences of His grace in your life. All 3.

David says: This only speaks to the part of the challenge which asserted that if one holds to limited atonement, you cannot know Christ died for you. I could say, that universal satisfaction surely entails that I can know that Christ died for me. Of course, one counter could be, you couldn't know that Christ died especially for you (given that I am a moderate-classic Calvinist).

However, the part of the objection that limited atonement and the free offer (or call) are incompatible.

David

DJP said...

David, repeating yourself doesn't really advance the discussion. You don't give me anything really new that hasn't already been dealt with.

In fact, I started to write a response, but realized there's no point. I already have responded sufficiently: in the post itself, and again at 12:19pm, at 2:18pm, and at 3:24pm, to pick a few.

You haven't given me anything new to reply to. That you may not like where Scripture points isn't my issue.

And yes, once again focusing on the original question, the second response is plenty effective. It lances the fatuous conceit that a universal (but ineffectual) "best-effort atonement" is better grounds either for evangelism or assurance. It is neither.

As to "thoughtful Arminians," I'll let you know when I talk with some. I'm not too concerned with whether my arguments have the power to open closed minds. I'm sure they don't.

Mike Riccardi said...

Always a bit hesitant to spend more effort to explain something to someone (a) to whom it's already been explained, and (b) who doesn't read what I've written carefully enough to realize I wrote X and he's quoting Y.

David, your comments should be addressed to BP.

If you'd like to actually deal with what I've said, I'd be happy to do what I could to help you understand what I believe is the (overtly clear) Biblical position on this matter.

Flynn said...

Hey Dan,

Dan says: That you may not like where Scripture points isn't my issue.

David: to clarify, what I like and dont like has no bearing here.

Dan says: And yes, once again focusing on the original question, the second response is plenty effective. It lances the fatuous conceit that a universal (but ineffectual) "best-effort atonement" is better grounds either for evangelism or assurance. It is neither.

David: I think the advocate of universal satisfaction would only need to say that with regard to the logical relationship between the scope and nature of the atonement and the universal call of the gospel, they have a better argument, the better grounds. It may be the case that over all, in other areas, they may not have a better case.

So basically as I read you, an opponent raises as a challenge the problematic, as they see it, of the logical relationship between limited atonement and the universal call. Your answer is simply, "Its irrelevant, I ground the call in the biblical precedent and imperative to call all men."

If I may ask, why do you think such rejoinders to Arminians are useful?

I am just trying to figure out why. I read quite a few Arminian responses to your Karate post, and they were all unimpressed. What do you hope to achieve?

Thanks and take care,
David

Flynn said...

hey Mike

Hey you are right, I screwed up.I cut and paste one comment into WP, in order to answer it, then I went on to Dan. Then when I came back to the other post, I inserted the wrong author.

Sorry for that. I address my comments to BP.

David

David Zook said...

Well said.

Frank Turk said...

Well.

I'm sorry I missed all the, um, fun?

Benjamin Nitu said...

Good point, Dan!

tigerbright22 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tigerbright22 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chad V. said...

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: 6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

1John2:1-5

DJP said...

David, the other thread was like this. Check out tigerbright22's post, just above this. His question has been answered, sufficiently and repeatedly. But he doesn't like the answer, so he just re-asserts the question.

I have talked with Jehovah's Witnesses at great length. They see, beyond rational question, that Scripture teaches the deity of Christ. But do they change their minds? No.

So did I fail? No. It isn't in my power to change minds; it only is in my power (and responsibility) to tell the truth as clear and effectively as I can, looking to God to do with it as He will.

So with the Arminians on that thread and (?) folks like you and tigerbright. If they trust in Christ, they're not cultists, they're not lost — but the issue is the same. In that thread, in this, I've removed the excuse for taking a particular un-Biblical position. How they respond is between them and God.

Absurd though the position is, we actually had people make the inane argument this post demolishes. Though answered repeatedly, one poster insisted repeatedly that he'd never been given an answer. When asked to repeat the answer he'd been given, he could not or would not even do that much.

So here it is, short, concise, to the point, sufficient, devastating — because Scripture is so clear on this issue.

The fact that some people keep talking and loudly insist they're unconvinced does not mean that the argument is not over.

Barbara said...

bp - re:dinner analogy

Imagine this instead:

You're preparing a feast for your extended family, and you're offering a place at the table for your daughter, though you know she won't accept. You have enough food, there is room. The dinner isn't all about her, but there's sufficient supply of food to include her. That isn't a sham, and it's a better analogy than the one previously given.

Just because Joe doesn't believe, doesn't take away the efficacy of Christ's blood to redeem those who do. It is sufficient for all, effectual for the elect. As the Scripture itself says, many are called but few are chosen.

Chad V. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
tigerbright22 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
DJP said...

Simple topic.

Stick to it, please.

bp said...

Better analogy Barbara, thanks. :)

You're right that not prepraing the dinner totally breaks down the anaology. Christ's blood is sufficient for all. Let's try to make your analogy even more clear:

The dinner is prepared, the table is set. There's enough room and food for everyone I invited, but I've only "particularly applied" the food to the plates of those I know will accept my invitation.

Not applying the food to the plates of those I know will angrily refuse to come does not diminish the genuineness of my offer at all. It's just...why waste my food? It will just be thrown away.

Flynn said...

part 1

Hey Dan,

David: I did want to clarify, by saying I am an old friend of Phil, I meant Phil Johnson.

Dan: David, the other thread was like this. Check out tigerbright22's post, just above this. His question has been answered, sufficiently and repeatedly. But he doesn't like the answer, so he just re-asserts the question.

David: I couldn't find any previous reference to tigherbright. I don't know who that is.

If I understand your point, what still strikes me is the point that what you gain is very little. So you beat down one off-the-cuff way remark by pinning down the literal wording of the objection, or something like that. But in the meanwhile, anyone who thinks beyond the off-the-cuff wording remains unconvinced.

Dan says: I have talked with Jehovah's Witnesses at great length. They see, beyond rational question, that Scripture teaches the deity of Christ. But do they change their minds? No.

David: Some do change their minds. I know that from personal experience.

So my concern is: there is a difference with patiently arguing with a cultist, and just dismissing the opponent. I am reading your "responses" as dismissive rather than engaging in argument. Its just a contest of wills, one raw assertion versus another.

Dan: So did I fail? No. It isn't in my power to change minds; it only is in my power (and responsibility) to tell the truth as clear and effectively as I can, looking to God to do with it as He will.

David: Sure, I totally agree. What are the options when one is confronted with invincible ignorance (the willful refusal to acknowledge the truth against all facts)? One can continue in conversational engagement or walk away. I am not seeing you do either, but just rather just dismissively reject the point. I am sure there are better ways to make your real point (trying to finally deal with hardened objectors) without coming across so dismissively.

Flynn said...

part 2

Dan: If they trust in Christ, they're not cultists, they're not lost — but the issue is the same. In that thread, in this, I've removed the excuse for taking a particular un-Biblical position. How they respond is between them and God.

David: I know you may "think" that, but with respect, you've hardly achieved anything. Coming from the classic moderate Calvinist, with its limited-unlimited view of the satisfaction, your "Next" posts are more like this to me: like biting into an almond chocolate, where you get one of those nutty gritty pieces of nut get stuck in between your teeth. You reach for a toothpick or some instrument to remove it. Its removed. And all the while you continue the conversation with the folk in the room. Its a minor irritation. I am not saying this to belittle but make a point. A lot of your "next" posts, for me, often gain only momentary attention, just enough to work out the problem, and then solve it. Not trying to be insulting, Dan.

And I am sure others think they are wonderful... but coming from an out-sider's perspective, I don't see a lot being accomplished by them.

If I posed to you the an objection that there is a logical problematic between a limited satisfaction and the universal call, your "responses" above, to me, would be totally irrelevant, and question-begging. Make sense? I know you don't do this with others. I know you can put forth a reason and sustained case in the form of a normal conversation, so these little ditty-like rebuttals strike me as odd.

Dan: Absurd though the position is, we actually had people make the inane argument this post demolishes. Though answered repeatedly, one poster insisted repeatedly that he'd never been given an answer. When asked to repeat the answer he'd been given, he could not or would not even do that much.

David: Then surely, the best thing to do is walk away from such people? If the person is being factious--which seems to be the root here perhaps--then walking away is the better approach. Why continue to seek them out?

Dan: So here it is, short, concise, to the point, sufficient, devastating — because Scripture is so clear on this issue.

David: With respect, I am not sure that your rebuttals have as much efficacy that you may think they have. They remind me of someone beating up on the sickly kid in the school-yard. I say that, again not to insult, but to make a point.

Dan: The fact that some people keep talking and loudly insist they're unconvinced does not mean that the argument is not over.

Well thanks for taking the time to reply and for the patience in doing so. I hope, too, that I have also clarified my motives in responding to you.

Take care,
David

DJP said...

Again, David, lots of words but nothing new.

The theme is to repeat "I'm not convinced." OK, now we know that about you.

But the question I singled out is answered, whatever your feelings or biases.

DJP said...

bp, Barbara — both analogies miss the point I'm making.

The Bible has a very strong need-to-know focus. We need to stick with that.

Back to the specifics of this post: folks who don't like the Biblical teaching of Christ's efficacious atonement and sovereign grace love to camp on questions to which they don't need to know the answers. Let's not.

What do I need to know? Adapting your analogy, all I need to know is that God tells me to invite everyone to the feast, and that there will be enough for everyone who comes. That is all I need to know.

For all I know, Christ has made atonement for everyone who is alive as I write. Or maybe for half. Or a third. Of a gazillionth, or 99.9%.

I don't need to know.

All I need to know — golly, I should create a macro or something for this meta — is that He invites all to come, and will save all who do come.

DJP said...

You know, it occurs to me I should learn from Phil and Frank: when you see circles and circles, and realize you are giving the exact same answer to the exact same question for the XXth time, sometimes it's time to turn off the lights.

Lights out.