28 June 2012

Olson on Limited Atonement: Part Two

by Dan Phillips

[We rejoin an interaction begun here and already in progress.]

Understandably, Olson next says
It’s difficult to resist the impression that Calvinists who believe in limited atonement do so not for clear biblical reasons but because they think Scripture allows it and reason requires it. There is nothing necessarily wrong with that, but at least some Calvinists such as Piper have criticized others for doing the same. Piper criticizes others for allegedly embracing doctrines only because Scripture allows them and logic requires them. It seems to many non-Calvinists, however, that believers in limited atonement do exactly that. Lacking any clear, unequivocal biblical support for this doctrine, they embrace it because they think Scripture allows it and their TULIP system logically requires it. After all, if election is unconditional and grace is irresistible, then it would seem that the atonement would be only for the elect.
Olson has a point, or at least the tip of a point. The reason I usually call myself a 4.95-point Calvinist (+/-) is that, while every one of the other four points is expressly taught in Scripture, there is no single verse that expressly says, in so many words "Jesus died to atone fully for the sins of the elect and nobody else." Yet I wouldn't agree with Olson's characterization. There is an overwhelmingly strong Biblical case to be made for particular redemption, and partway-measure alternatives quickly fall apart into bibbly-babbly (but not Bibley) nonsense.

To put it another way, if one does not affirm the other four points of Calvinism, one has issues with plain Biblical teaching, and that's a problem. If one does affirm those four points, I don't see a Biblical way around the remaining point ("L"), however some might squeal and kick against it. Consider:

You have God unconditionally choosing some to salvation. You have all men without exception completely unable to respond to God. You have the Holy Spirit invincibly drawing and regenerating the elect, and only them. You have God keeping all of those thus elected and drawn, and only them. But the Son does not make infallible provision for them in His atonement, assuring their salvation? The Son leaves them unable to enjoy any of the benefits of God's other (would-be) saving acts? And if the Son does do all this for the elect, His identical act for non-elect doesn't save them? For that and many other reasons, the case for particular redemption is much, much stronger than Olsen allows.

Citing the usual "world" verses, Olson then says
Typically, Calvinists respond that in these verses “world” refers to all kinds of people and not everyone. However, that would make it possible to interpret all the places where the New Testament reports that the “world” is sinful and fallen as meaning only some people — all kinds — are sinful and fallen.
"Possible" in the abstract? I suppose so. But (A) Olson does not even try to demonstrate that "world" doesn't have many different nuances in Scripture — for very good reason!; and (B) That bad things can be done is hardly an argument that a good thing should not be done. That is, given that "world" frequently very clearly has different nuances even within a single verse (e.g. Jn. 1:10; 3:17), one is obliged to do the actual hard work of exegesis, rather than blithely asserting the meaningless "world means world" — as if there is some universally-agreed single sense to the word kosmos in the NT, such as "every human ever born."

Olson gives no evidence of having dealt seriously with studies such as John Owen's and countless others over the course of centuries, as he breezily asserts that 1 John 2:1-2 "completely undermines the Calvinist interpretation of 'world' in John 3:16,17 because it explicitly states that Christ died an atoning death not only for believers, but also for everyone." How does it undermine that case? Can Olson cite a single Calvinist — even one — who argues that "world" always means "believers only"? It is the Calvinist who observes that the word has many nuances in the NT. It is the Calvinist who seeks to establish each passage's meaning exegetically. It is Olson who fails even to try to do more than assert and assume.

In fact, Olson gives no indication of ever having truly wrestled with 1 John 2:1-2 at all, nor even recognizing what a problematic verse it is for Arminianism. Instead, Olson simply asserts that
Here “world” must include nonbelievers because “ours” refers to believers. [Ipse dixit Olson!] This verse makes it impossible to say that Christ’s death benefits everyone, only not in the same way. (Piper says Christ’s death benefits the nonelected by giving them temporal blessings only.) John says clearly and unequivocally that Christ’s atoning sacrifice was for the sins of everyone — including those who are not believers.
At the outset, for my part I'll agree that "This verse makes it impossible to say that Christ’s death benefits everyone, only not in the same way." Yessir, John says that Christ Himself (emphatic autos) is (present active indicative) the propitiation for all the world.
But not so fast. Unless one dives into tortuous Clintonian flexi-gesis©, isn't this verse a massive problem for Arminians? Does "is" mean "is," here? Is it really out of place to ask whether it is legitimate to insist that "the whole world" necessarily means every last man, woman and child ever born (as the identical phrase cannot mean in 5:19), and at the same time to ignore the "is"?
That is, John does not say that Christ "really would love to be" the propitiation for the sins of the whole world, nor that "if He had His way, He would be" that propitiation, nor that "He possibly is," nor that "He has done His part and breathlessly waits to see who will do theirs to help Him be" the propitiation. The apostle just says that Christ is the propitiation.
So we don't have only one choice, nor even two. We have several exegetical choices to make, and we also have several options. Olson's assumed (not argued!) position is only one option and, to my mind, among the least likely, and least representative of John's actual wording and use.
After this, Olson gamely tries a few more verses, but they fare much the same at his hands: questions begged, exegesis assumed rather than demonstrated, logic ignored. I understand Olson was under space limitations, and so am I. What we've already done well primes the reader to examine the verses in their actual wording, in context, and compared with usage, and ask whether Olson's assertions merit his QED.
Perhaps sensing that his exegetical case has not been strong, Olson signals his departure by asserting that "The greatest problem goes to the heart of the doctrine of God."

Now, for novices, let me just make an observation. Very often (not always!) when you read a statement like this, the author is giving you a signal. He is covertly admitting, "I don't have any actual verses that teach what I'm about to say; I'm going to have to reach into the penumbra of the Bible, and lean pretty hard on the white spaces between the lines of text." What follows is not invariably invalid, but readers should not relax their demand for proof when they see a disclaimer such as this.

Very well, then; how so does pan-textual explicit affirmation of the Biblical doctrine of a saving God encounter a "great" problem at the heart of the doctrine of God?

If you picked "God's love for $500!", you picked right. Olson somberly informs us that Calvinists are unable to affirm that God is love, with any credibility, because if a human being did what God did we wouldn't say he was loving.

Sadly, Olson ignores the good Admiral's warning tones and immediately falls down a deep and dark shaft, when he says
We would never consider someone who could rescue drowning people, for example, but refuses to do it and rescues only some as loving. We would consider such a person evil, even if the rescued people appreciated what the person did for them.
Oh dear me. Do you see what a disastrous assertion this is for Olson, of all people, to make? He says that a God who actually saves some, but leaves others to drown, is not a loving God. Well then, accepting that logic, what would that make a God who saves nobody at all, but stands on the shore watching them all drown, ineffectually waving a life-preserver at them, and assuring them all that He loves them and is waiting right there for them all to make their way to shore so He can "save" them? Because that is Olson's God, whatever Olson and his like might insist or deny. Olson has God's work in Christ only making salvation possible — and even then, as we saw, He can still send them to Hell for sins He told them He'd paid for in full!

As one hath somewhere crooned, What's "love" got to do with that?

Of course, I've done a Prov. 21:22/26:5 with that argument. The truth is that if one lets Scripture speak for itself, the folks in this case aren't drowning. They're drowned. Their bloated corpses are at the bottom of the sea. The well-meaning figure on the shore now looks even sillier.

Leaving that, Olson says that "Another way Calvinists handle the love of God ...is to say that God loves all people in some way but only some people (the elect) in all ways." Really? Only Calvinists do that? Olson thinks that God loves Judas and the Beast, John the Baptist and the False Prophet, Jacob and Esau, in exactly the same way? Does his Bible have Deut. 4:32-39; 7:7-10; Amos 3:2; Mal. 1:2-3 and all the rest?

Would he advise that we all practice those implications, feeling morally obligated to show no distinctions in whom and how we love? Should spouses love all men/women exactly as they love their mates, and vice-versa? Should parents love their children exactly as they love all other children, and vice-versa? In selecting trusted, beloved friends, are we now to ignore Prov. 13:21, 1 Cor. 5:11, 15:33, and any other verse to the contrary, in the name of loving like God loves?


So that's yet another total non-starter. Look, I'll just be very honest with you. I know this argument (God isn't really loving if He doesn't give saving every last person a really good try) resonates emotionally with a lot of people. Obviously it does with Olson. I get that — until you think about it. How is a hypothetical atonement that does and can save no one bespeak a greater love than an actual atonement that can and does save countless multitudes? It is loving for God to make an empty and ineffectual gesture to all people without exception, but it is unloving for Him actually and powerfully to save all sorts without exclusion?

Olson says in effect God walks into a morgue, plop down an elixir of life, and heartily inform the corpses "I love each and every one of you so much that whosoever reaches out and drinks may live" — and that is real love. Yet by contrast a God who walks into the morgue, administers His potion to some of the inhabitants, adopts them and cares for them and keeps them forever — that isn't love. What sense does that make, beyond an initial emotional flutter? Particularly when you factor in that He not only owed it to none of them, but every last one of them had been His sworn enemies?

Finally we reach the very bottom of the barrel, as Olson tells us (yes, he really does, I am not making this up) that affirming God as mighty to save is bad for evangelism. Unless you can guarantee a disinterested and unrepentant and mocking and disbelieving sinner that Jesus paid for every last one of his sins, you can't evangelize him. (In which case, as I've observed, I know for a fact of at least one Christ-hater who concluded that he had nothing to worry about and no need to repent.)

One hopes it isn't too much to ask where Olson got his apparent definition of "evangelism" as "telling lost people that Jesus atoned for all of their sins whether they believe or not, but they need to believe to make it work." I don't get that one. Neither did Paul. After all, when Paul expressly and explicitly outlined the Gospel in 1 Cor. 15:1-11, he made no such Olsonic assertion. Indeed, none of the apostles seems to have read Olson, since not a one of them preaches in his terms to lost audiences in the Book of Acts. Not. One. Time. Ever.

I try to be consistent in affirming and applying the sufficiency of Scripture. So, call me silly, but I figure that if the apostles managed to tilt their whole world (to coin a phrase) without once being recorded as telling unrepentant unbelievers that Jesus paid for all their sins, I can live and preach their Gospel without using that verbal formula too. I am able to tell every last sinner every last thing he needs to know to be informed that he needs Christ as Savior, and that if he believes in Him, he will be saved.

And then when he does repent and believe, I can show him that every bit of his interest, repentance, and faith was secured for him by the mighty grace of a mighty, loving, sovereign, saving God, through the work of Christ at Calvary. And I will show him that salvation is of the Lord, to the praise of the glory of His grace.


One final note on Bro. Olson. Many who wish to remain Arminian (or -ish) many seethe and quibble about this and that. Perhaps a very few will confess, "Okay, you made one or two good points, maybe; we just need Olson or someone else to make a better case and give a better answer!"

No, you really don't. Let me be as plain as I can. I don't think the weakness of Olson's case is Olson's fault. By that I mean it isn't that Olson holds a really terrific, sound, Biblical position, but just did a really bad job in presenting and defending it. I think Olson probably did about as good a job as can be done with that position. The problem isn't with Olson, primarily. It's with the position. The problem with a bad product isn't that it has bad salesmen; it's that it's a bad product. And so here.

So no, in my opinion, what is needed is not for Arminians to pick a better representative.

What is needed is for them to change their minds on this issue.

Thus far Bro. Olson. Next time, Lord willing, some reflections on the oddness of the Assemblies of God turning to Olson to target Calvinism as a challenge to the Gospel.

Dan Phillips's signature


Kerry James Allen said...

Nice job Dan.
And since the Calvinistic 5-strip BACON acrostic has been making the rounds, I hereby respectfully present Remonstrance 5-point turkey bacon:

Bruised people whom God
Already foreknew would believe in
Christ's death being, "All means all,"
Opting in willingly and
Now on probation.

"I had rather believe a limited atonement that is efficacious for all men for whom it was intended, than a universal atonement that is not efficacious for anybody, except the will of man be joined with it. CHS

Eric said...


Very nicely done. Lots here to digest. The reaction I have typically seen from Arminians to this type of deconstruction is to start back over at the beginning and repeat the whole process, making the whole conversation into a circular tail-chasing endeavor. It tends to be frustrating.

Olson's ultimate appeal to his human-based and flawed understanding of love reveals that this is really his starting point: he intends to judge The Judge. Other statements of his such as his pointed refusal to worship God as revealed show that he has exalted himself and his reasoning to a point where he feels he can stand in judgment of the Almighty. What a dangerous position to place oneself in. May he yet see the error of his ways.

Nash Equilibrium said...

1. Hearkening to my mis-spent charismatic (incl. AOG) youth, such is the state of what passes for critical thinking in the charismatic community. Logical muscles fall into atrophy from dis-use, since a nice little "don't quench the Spirit" or "God told me this, so shut up" will do the trick. Or little puffs of air at the end of each sentence, if the other things fail.

2. It's easy to see how the idea that the sinner needs to reach out to God, sets the table for using emotional pleas to get the sinner to reach out to God and drink the magic potion. If it works, then the end justifies the means.

Dan you've done a real nice job of explaining the inconsistencies of Arminianism or as I call it, Sinner-Centered-Therapy, here.

Stephen Garrett said...

I really enjoyed this. Amen!



donsands said...

"And if the Son does do all this for the elect, His identical act for non-elect doesn't save them?"

I thought, "We are all sons of wrath."

And yet God has mercy on the children of wrath He sovereignly lovingly and mysteriously purposes to do so.

Thanks for the two excellent posts of hard work in the Word. You are very gifted in this ministry, and it benefits us, church, with encouragement, and edification.

Have a joyous weekend in our Lord's love.

Tom said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jay Beerley said...

I would love for the Olsens of the world to show me ONE time in Scripture where God comes across as a beggar and powerless to do what He "really wants" to accomplish. I guess all they have is trying to turn "Behold, I stand at the door and knock" into that, but again, awful exegesis work there.
Not that it matters what I want, but I love that God reveals Himself as the one who is in control, accomplishing what he wants to accomplish and getting things done.

This just led me to another question: would an their stance mean that God is a promise-breaker? Or would they say that God is not really promising anything when it comes to salvation and perseverance?

DJP said...

Tom, I try pretty consistently not to allow Pyro to become a link dump. If you want to engage the contents of the post yourself in some way, feel free.

DJP said...

Look! Up above the comments! What is that? Why... it's a post! It has all sorts of words and stuff. And it links to another post, which is its Part One!

So if you have some interaction with either post, welcome.

If you seem to be saying "Oh, look, someone mentioned Limited Atonement. I want to say what I always say about that! Let's see, where's the comment box...?" — then I'll probably disappear your comment and any responses to it.

Tom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom said...

DJP 8:38 AM: OK, understood.

DJP said...

Thanks Tom.

In case I haven't in a while, let me explain the "link dump" and free-assocation ban — not to introduce a new topic, but to explain the focus on this one.

I wrote a pair of posts. I wrote them hoping to instruct and correct. In them I built a case, at some length. I nailed it up on the door.

When a commenter ignores it and says "Yes, well, all that was answered here: ____," what am I supposed to do? Write another post, answering that? If so, what will I find in its meta? "Nice try I guess, but all that was refuted HERE: ___"? And so on.

So, take responsibility for some argument you want to make with the actual contents of these posts, make it, and I'll have the opportunity of responding here.

Oh and just to be pre-emptive, comments to the effect of "You're all semi-neo-Plotinistic morons laboring under Tronzogreavean categories. All this was decisively dealt with by von Borffenstein, in volume 47 of his Forgotten Writings. Also, buy my book, idiots" — will probably also go the way of the dodo.

Jay Beerley said...

Maybe there's a correlation between universal atonement and the current love of zombies. The dead raising on their own? Hmmmm.....

Frank Rue said...

In the world of Arminian arguments (and John Owen makes this case over and over again in his works), the only two possibilities that can really be concluded are as follows (per your drowning analogy)...

The bloated corpses are sunk to the bottom of the water.

1. God chooses *and does* save some of them - CHRISTIANITY/CALVINISM.

2. God chooses *and does* save all of them - UNIVERSALISM.

I can 100% see why, reading Scripture and deciding that "God is Love" or "God is Good" should trump clear exegesis would give you #2. Clearly, I don't agree, and neither does Scripture, since we KNOW that NOT ALL ARE saved, but I can at least call that person consistent in his trumping over Scripture.

If we all deserve to be corpses at the footstool of leviathan, then why is it we cannot ascribe "goodness" to the God who would go out of His way and contrary to our deservedness to save SOME of us? Even in human terms, that's incredibly commendable! To NOT commend it is arrogant! Almost as arrogant as saying that 26 baptisms is laughable in the face of over 2600 baptisms. Oh, wait...

Owen says it all much better than I, but it is still baffling to see someone attempt to create a case from (poorly) anthropomorphizing the actions of the infinite God outside of Scripture's clear teaching.

Robert said...

Maybe Olson thinks unredeemed sinners are just pining for the fjords. That is honestly the first thing that came to mind when I read your first post.

Unless an Arminian can get past the fact (and not just dodge it) that the Bible says we are DEAD (Eph. 2:1,5; Col. 2:13) and that God brings us to life, then I don't think they have a leg to stand on. I've never seen that happen and never will.

Darrel said...

Dan, Why has Arminianism not been declared heresy as did our forefathers and even as recently as Spurgeon?

Tom said...

"...but I figure that if the apostles managed to tilt their whole world (to coin a phrase) without once being recorded as telling unrepentant unbelievers that Jesus paid for all their sins, I can live and preach their Gospel without using that verbal formula too."

I believe Peter came close (Acts 3:25-26 ESV):

You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, "And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed." God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.

(Notice that God is responsible the turning in the above passage (Christ was sent for every one of them to be turned); yet we know that not all Israel actually repented.)

DJP said...

Robert, from TWTG:

"Paul says that we are dead. Not 'resting.' Not pining for the Fjords. Not 'getting better.' Not 'only mostly dead.' Not merely sick and weak, though we are that (Rom.
5:6; 8:3). Dead."

Did you know that?

DJP said...

Darrel, "heresy" is slipperier than you'd think. Some use it for any false teaching, apparently. I try only to use it of damning error, error that one cannot hold and be a Christian, such as the Galatian heresy.

I wouldn't at all put Arminianism in that category. For the reasons I lay out, I think it's Biblically inaccurate, mistaken, harmful even — but not damning.

Phil said...

DJP, how do you define "interaction with the actual contents of the posts" so that "the nature of the gospel" or "the nature of faith" or "the nature of the atonement" is strictly too wide a topic to relate? When the contents of your posts are an expression of the wideness of the topic as per your choice of expression?...Was that me, or my comment, you are referring to as "the dodo"?

DJP said...

Phil, do you have some part of the actual words in the actual post that you'd like to engage? Please do.

Robert Warren said...

The foundation for all of this is simple: Dr. Olson doesn't subscribe to scripture alone nor to the sufficiency of scripture. He does however, place high value on something called blik, whatever in the world such post-modern, abstract navel-gazing has to do with interpreting the Bible.

Robert said...


Sorry...I actually meant to reference TWTG and apparently forgot to as I got distracted during writing my comment. That is why the pining for the Fjords comment came to mind.

Phil said...

Well, you quoted 1Jn2v2 as being problematic for a sacrifice that touches the whole world (albeit in the context of Arminianism), and I shared a quote from Calvin where he says it does means all people..in a way which at the least suggests whatever else he thought, it didn't require a strictly limited atonement the way you are suggesting. So, I spoke of that in the context of expiation and application. Atonement that wasn't Owen-esque. One that seems to uphold the texts and the whole tenor.

You mentioned the application of the sufficiency of scripture, but noted elsewhere that this doctrine of limited atonement was never explicitly affirmed. So I said it seemed in keeping with "sufficiency" that the teaching of the actual doctrine of the atonement reflects the tenor of scripture on how someone partakes of the benefits of Christ and what is "unto them".

You mentioned how it is much better news that the atonement be limited, because that guarantees the salvation of some..so I mentioned the nature of faith that lays hold on Christ, and that it would seem the logical reduction of a strictly limited atonement gospel (limited in-and-of-itself that is) is that people have to produce repentance from sins/fruit to find out if their sins were taken away..which is a reversal, and not grace, free forgiveness that produces repentance. Not suited to assurance because it would be works.

I don't have stuff to say about limited atonement per se any more, I don't talk about it, even though I have talked about a "he was raised because of our justification" sufficiency of the atonement, which the believer can lay claim on, and the unbeliever know it "unto them" minus all addition from their works of faith to make it sufficient.

DJP said...

Yes, as I mentioned, others take various views of 1 John 2:2. And? Feel free to engage any of the exegetical observations I made, apart from saying that others have other opinions.

As all Calvinists confirm, anyone who believes in Christ is saved, and that faith is a gift of God assured to the elect by Christ's work on the Cross. Affirmed over and over in the posts, I believe.

Even Olson grants that it is legitimate to combine and reason from Scripture. "Trinity," anyone?

There y'go.

Aaron said...

I had some clever comment in my head but I lost it when I ROFL after this comment:

"You're all semi-neo-Plotinistic morons laboring under Tronzogreavean categories. All this was decisively dealt with by von Borffenstein, in volume 47 of his Forgotten Writings. Also, buy my book, idiots" — will probably also go the way of the dodo"

Oh yeah, Olson says "We would never consider someone who could rescue drowning people, for example, but refuses to do it and rescues only some as loving." Except that both Calvinists and Arminians both agree that God does not rescue everybody when He very well could have. It's just the reason why. Arminians believe God doesn't rescue everybody so that He can keep this artificial construct alive, called "free will." Calvinists believe that God does so according to His own purpose and His own glory because He's the Creator and He decides what is just and loving.

Somebody should tell Luther, Calvin, Knox, Whitefield, Carey, Edwards, and Spurgeon that Calvinism is a road bloack to evangelism. Apparently they missed that memo.

Phil said...

I did more than say others have other opinions, though...As to Calvinists affirming faith as a gift of God assured to the elect by Christ's work on the cross, I understand not. Many (like Calvin?) say it is assured to the elect by union with the risen Christ who ever lives to intercede. Many don't place the "gift of faith" within the merit of atonement itself, even though they will say unbelief was a sin that was paid for, too.

But I wasn't mentioning whether or not someone affirmed it as a gift as to where it's from, I was talking about it's actual nature - is to "believe in Christ" something that happens in response to receiving a message that is certainly "unto" anyone, and freely..or is it a message of "what Christ did for you if you..." That's not a "gift", even if we claim God worked it in us. It's not the nature of saving faith...faith respects the gospel of "righteousness unto you freely" in a person turning to God, because the message of the gift of righteousness is the power of God to salvation (new birth through it),not new birth itself. I have to have grounds that I can be justified freely as ungodly (through faith in repentance unto God)..not "if I turn from my sin" or "if I believe". Which means I need to know the atonement has something to say to me as ungodly "right now", before faith, before repentance...bringing them.

Sure, Trinity is obvious as an "is what it is", even when we can't (and don't want to) reduce it. I don't think you can make the comparison with "limited atonement". Often, like the tenor of your post, a 5point Calvinist reduces everything to limited atonement as the crux, the very gospel. But it's a crux that God didn't deem fit to spell out..even when the believer is to think of Christ's death and resurrection as his own, now He is in Christ. And He did spell out the nature of faith, the nature of the gift of righteousness, grace vs works, the heart of God etc. I think that should say something. Not that "we are saved by the one work of faith", but still.

donsands said...

"(new birth through it),not new birth itself."

You can not see the kingdom unless.

I like how Dan said we are not drowning, but are dead:-- already drowned in our sin, and under God's hot holy wrath.

Jesus also did say: "I came to give My life for the sheep", and to give us everlasting life.
He said to the Jews, "You are not My sheep." John 10 is an incredible chapter that proclaims limited atonement, or election in His love.

And what love God does have to save a wretch like me, and all who He saves are unholy and wretches.
His love is perfect, and His love can not fail.

Bill said...

Dan, you ask "One hopes it isn't too much to ask where Olson got his apparent definition of "evangelism"..." Reading Mr Olsen and also listening to Ed Young's anti-Calvinist rant on Apprising earlier this week, my answer would be the same, from their own personal interpretation of what it means to:
1. Be a Calvinist and
2. Evangelize.
Both gents set up and burned down straw men quicker than you can say logical fallacy.

Kerry James Allen said...

BLOGGER: God can not end up being wrong about my free choices; if what I will choose to do at each and every moment in my future, is already known by God, I cannot have real alternatives from which to choose. Or, to put it another way, If God knows that I will choose A, there is no possibility that I will choose B, proving God wrong. Is it not an epistemic duty of old-fashioned Arminians to either counter this argument or surrender to open theism?
OLSON ANSWER:Perhaps. But, of course, I don’t feel obligated to do that immediately. Such decisions can take a very long time. There are philosophers who are working on this problem and I await the outcome of their deliberations. In the meantime I take a watch and wait attitude. As I said, it really doesn’t affect worship or piety. If I become an open theist some day nothing about the way I worship, witness or pray will be affected. So what’s the rush?

Phil said...

Don, of course you can't enter the kingdom without new birth. You can't behold it's beauty as beauty savingly without it. But the gospel is the power of God to salvation, and it's not a gospel of secret new births with results and inferences, it's the gospel of the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness. Rom1v16,17, Rom5v17. There's an actual objective message that comes with the power of the Spirit to new birth. And the message comes first, not new birth. And there is an active receiving, on account of actual news of "righteousness unto you freely". (as ungodly, Rom4v5 - not new born). So not just potential news of "righteousness unto you if you....and if the atonement applies to you".

Those verses in Jn 10 there don't speak of an atonement limited in itself. As Dan admitted, not verses explicitly talk of a limited atonement.

Darrel said...

Thanks for your reply, Dan. Is not man's supposed "free-will" an integral part in their theology? Don't they insist that an act of the human will is necessary to salvation? with Scripture teaching no such thing? If it takes an act of our will to motivate God to save us isn't that obligating God to do so for all who want to be saved? If we can "obligate" God in any manner then where is the free gift of salvation by grace through faith to be found? If our will can get us salvation, what need have we of grace? Would it not be a "damning" error to replace grace with the will of man? It seems no one wants to address this. If you have in a previous post please give the link.

Nate said...

Kerry: Do you have a link to those comments?

Mandi said...

It seems to me that what people who make arguments like "if God doesn't try to save all the drowning people, he isn't loving" are missing is that we all deserve hell. All the Arminians I know give lip-service to the idea that no one is worthy or deserving of God's grace, but isn't that what the above idea is based on? God has to try to save all to "prove" himself loving, because all deserve at least a try?

I thank God that, though I am undeserving, he saved me because of his goodness and grace, not anything in me. Otherwise, I would be lost.

trogdor said...

The opening quote of part 2, and Ed Young's idiotic rant (which I won't link to - you're welcome) both pique my interest on a similar point. The idea is that we're Calvinists because we really, really want to be, and we find enough wiggle room in scripture that it might be possible, so that's enough for us. Calvinism is just so cool and we desperately want it to be true, so we seize any opportunity allowed by scripture to protect our cherished system.

OK, yeah. Can we take a little poll? How many here, when they first (as a Christian, not counting scare tactics about Jonathan Edwards from school or anything) heard about Calvinism, thought it was awesome? Did you immediately think "Yes! That's great! I'll take some of that - can you show me some supporting scripture so I can justify it?"

Or are you more like I was, and fight kicking and screaming against it (in my case, for about two years)? Did you congratulate yourself when you read Romans 8:29 and found the word "foreknew", thinking you were so brilliant for inventing a scheme where God "predestined" based on what he "forknew" we would do on our own anyway? Did you come up with any excuse, any possible (and many impossible!) reasons that all those passages about election don't mean what they say, or just ignore them entirely? Did you keep fighting until the weight of scriptural evidence completely overwhelmed you?

Here's the thing. Calvinism is not, and probably never will be, "cool". It's hard to imagine a system that would be more reviled by the world at large - and by the rest of the church. Even setting aside the canard about Calvinists being mean and a menace and blah blah blah, the doctrines themselves cut at every square inch of our pride, completely destroying any thought that we are or ever have been on the throne.

We want that to be true? What we want to be true is the same thing our father Adam wanted - to be the masters of our own souls. My sinful flesh still clings to that illusion every chance it gets. Nothing short of the authority of God's Word can overcome that!

So I scoff at the idea that I'm a Calvinist because it's cool, that I thought it was this really neat system that maybe scripture might allow me to get away with. Nonsense! If there was any wiggle room, any way out of believing it, I would take that easy road.

No, the only reason I even considered becoming a Calvinist is because it is the inescapable conclusion of the overwhelming teaching of God's Word. I suspect I'm not alone.

Eric said...



Kerry James Allen said...

Colleen, it's in the comments under the article:

Anonymous said...


My experience exactly. Except I took longer than 2 years.

Listened to the White Horse Inn for probably 3 years or longer. Hating it, complaining to my wife about it, but still listening until the day (which I can recall clearly) I say weeping in my cubicle at work, with earphones in, suddenly realizing how gracious God had/has been to me.


I think that you're onto something not often raised, at least not in those terms. But I think it's a great point.
Either we deserve it or we don't. If we don't the whole "Is God love or is he not" line needs to be chucked completely.
If we do deserve it, then yes, it's a legitimate argument.

But Scripture doesn't allow our deserving of anything but hell.

Kerry James Allen said...

Trog, agreed. I simply tired of adding asterisks to all the texts that disagreed with my Arminianism. As Spurgeon said: "We are all Arminians by birth. The grace of God makes us Calvinists."

donsands said...

"And the message comes first, not new birth."-Phil

I disagree.

We are dead. God quickens, or makes us alive.

And John 10 is the Great Shepherd laying down His life for who?

Jesus tells these men who are questioning Him that they do not believe. Why? Because they are not His sheep.
He then says, and drives home the point saying, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish..."

Jesus came to seek His lost sheep, and He will gather them all. Why?
Because He loves them. His love is beyond comprehension and all we could ever imagine love is.
God has a love that can not fail.

The great question is why would a holy, holy, holy God and Lord love rebels like us, who are worthy of His wrath and so unworthy of ever being forgiven and shown mercy.

What a Savior! And what an Abba Father!

Robert said...


Aren't you just some guy who wears skinny jeans when he goes out to be cool and then wears underwear in his mom's basement and blogs about these guys? I mean, isn't that what all of us Calvinists on blogs are like? Because we just wanna be so cool, ya know?

Phil said...

Don, people aren't born again without hearing the message of the gospel. Simple. And the message of the gospel is not a message of potential righteousness unto people if they repent, believe..or if something happens inside them. It's a message of a righteousness outside of them unto them as ungodly,Rom4v5 to be upon them as their justification unto life.."so believe and live".

Whether one is a called a Calvinist or not,whatever one believes about election, that is faith, and that is the basic gospel of grace, and that is what a gospel from what a Saviour (not to mention the rest of the new covenant inheritance).

Ted Bigelow said...

Phil wrote "There's an actual objective message that comes with the power of the Spirit to new birth. And the message comes first, not new birth."

Phil, I like your points and what you are trying to defend - the sinner's obligation to exert faith - that the message of salvation commands an active response of believing from a sinner.
But faith is a good thing, right? And “no good thing dwells in my flesh”, right? Faith pleases God (Heb. 11:6) but “those who are in the flesh can’t please God” (Rom. 8:8, 3:12). The faith that lays hold of Christ for salvation fears God, but no unbeliever does that (Rom. 3:18). All unbelievers have Satan for their spiritual father (John 8:44) and do the deeds of their father.
Indeed, faith in Christ is a very good thing indeed. It’s so good that no sinner has the power to do it on his own. He is so needy He needs to be saved. But he can’t do anything himself except sin.
Go to 2 Peter 1:1. The faith spoken of here is a personal faith that believes on God for salvation, and it is a received faith. Really, Look it up. It’s so wonderful Peter even says it’s the same faith that he as an apostle has. If you got the Greek in you, check out the word “received.” It means to receive something by appointment.
Peter then exhorts us all, based on that faith, to be very active: “Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, etc.” (v. 5).

So you have a received faith that is active. Which simply means God grants to some eternal life. He raises people from the dead and they live by faith. They don’t live by faith while dead, but while alive.

I'm glad the gospel I preach doesn't expect sinners to do their part because God has done His.

Tom Chantry said...


That's the best answer to the Drowning Man analogy I've seen.

As for the whole "Calvinism is Cool" meme, I don't know how much that is Olsen or how much is just Young, although Olsen's quote does seem to suggest that being a Calvinist is at least convenient. I find that rather offensive in view of the many people - pastors and laypersons - who have suffered tremendously by becoming Calvinists. I'm not one of them, but my heart has long sympathized with them, and it's rather offensive to hear Olsen suggest that they have simply taken the easy, convenient way.

BTW, I'm surprised that the comments are not longer. DJP, perhaps you should find some way to add "SCOTUS" to the title of the post.

Eric said...

I know we all can be dense sometimes, but is Roger Olson really so obstinately stubborn and dense that he continues to trot out the "your God is not loving" or "your God is a monster" canard, apparently totally oblivious to the fact that his little scenarios are equally applicable to Arminianism? I thought this guy was supposed to be some sort of bright and thoughtful spokesman for Arminianism. Either he is so blinded by his ideology that he can't see what is right in front of his face, or he doesn't care because he knows his target audience will glibly go along with his goofy reasoning. I don't mean to sound rude, but he obviously has heard the responses to his "unloving" scenario before (I know he at least heard it from Micheal Horton during a mini-debate). It taxes my brain to understand why he persists.

Beside the obvious comebacks that his scenario and reasoning applies equally (or moreso) to Arminianism and his construct is false, just imagine the damage that would be done if we were to approach all of Scripture with this reasoning: namely, if it offends the sensibilities of man and would be considered unloving or inappropriate for man, then it can not be true of God. For instance, in what loving society do we kill the children for the adultery or murder committed by their parents? Can you possibly imagine? Yet God took the life of David's son because of David's sin. Must we re-interpret this passage? How about Ananias and Saphira? Would a loving church eldership kill the couple in their congregation that lied to them about their giving? Yet God took their lives immediately, and was just in doing so. Should we interpret that passage differently so that it does not offend our sensibilities?

The possibilities are endless. In the end, who is Roger Olson to sit in judgment of God?

Phil said...

Ted, I wasn't trying to defend an Arminian view of the origin of faith, or a Calvinist one per se. I wasn't talking about who moved first to personal salvation. I wasn't try to speak of the sinner's responsibility or of the nature of new birth.

I was merely talking about the "sort" of faith that receives grace in Christ, and the necessity of the sinner knowing there's righteousness unto them freely without qualifications, to be saved. That means the atonement is not something that only holds righteousness "unto" those to whom it will indeed be effectually given/received unto salvation.

Again, for me, God justifying the ungodly means the sinner can only come to Christ with a gospel where all the qualification, all the righteousness, is outside of him until it is upon him. (Not a work of the Spirit in him, or a work of the Spirit in him revealing to him that it was in fact done for him.) And, it can only come to him if it is actually available to him through the atonement.

And this gospel, comes with the power of God to new birth and faith, and makes him an heir of heaven, a new creation, with a new heart, possessing every spiritual blessing in union with Christ. Not a miserable wretch, either..a son.

I think we just have to note that, again, whatever one believes or thinks about the nature of new birth, it's getting the nature of faith right (above it's origin) that "protects" it being by grace (Rom4 "it is by faith that it might be by grace), and it's an actual message of an actual abundance of grace and gift of righteousness "unto" whomever, that the word says is the power of God to salvation (not new birth itself) (Rom1v16,17).

If you like, new birth is getting new life, the kingdom coming inside of you, in spiritual union with Christ. It's not the power of God to new life. That's the message of the gift of righteousness that the Spirit brings.

Anonymous said...

My name is George Paul Wood. I am the executive editor of Enrichment.

I have been dialoguing about the summer 2012 cover and contents at this thread on Dan's blog here: http://bibchr.blogspot.com/2012/06/aog-guards-against-threats-to-gospel.html. I have drafted an apology for the cover that will be posted on Enrichment's site in the next few days. The statement stands by the article content, however.

I am weighing how extensively to wade into this discussion on limited atonement. It's an issue of time, rather than interest. I've got a deadline to meet for a quarterly ministers letter as well as a paper to write for my Ph.D. program. Nevertheless, I will try to comment from time to time on Dan's post as time allows.

One issue that I would like to address is an inconsistency in the first three paragraphs of Dan's first post on Olson's article (http://teampyro.blogspot.com/2012/06/olson-on-limited-atonement-part-one.html).

Here are the relevant (1st and 3rd) paragraphs:

"The Assemblies of God, that denomination which teaches that born-again Christians who don't speak in tongues can't really serve or live for God, the same that brought us Jimmy Swaggart, Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, Paul and Jan Crouch, David (Paul) Yonggi Cho, and other similar luminaries, is clanging the warning-bell against such 'challenges to the Gospel' as..."


"At the outset of my reading, I sincerely appreciated that Olson appears to be trying to be as fair as he knows how to be in presenting Calvinism. Notably, rather than making (say) the abominable Fred Phelps a representative for Calvinism, Olson cites some of Biblical soteriology's most rightly-dominant figures both past and present, from Beza and Owen to Sproul and Piper."

Now, Pentecostal though I am--and apparently susceptible to atrophied logic muscles, according to Nash Equilibrium--it nonetheless seems to me that Dan is using an inconsistent standard here: Praise Olson for not using the worst examples of Calvinism as representative, but then turn around and use the worst AG examples (i.e., Swaggart, the Bakkers, and the Crouches) as somehow representative of the movement.

(Also, I would dispute Dan's tendentious characterization of classical Pentecostalism's doctrine of Spirit baptism, but that's another matter.)

At any rate, I just wanted to introduce myself, let you know that I am issuing an apology for the cover, and point out an area of what I perceive to be inconsistency in the opening of Dan's article.

As noted above, I will try to defend the contents of Olson's article as time allows.


DJP said...

George has been a welcomed and appreciated participant in the discussion over at my blog. As I said, above, I plan to focus more on the AOG in the next post, and his responses will be welcome then as well.

But before I respond further to this comment, kiddies, do notice this?

George Wood is not in "our" theological neighborhood. His is a hardcore Arminian Pentecostal denomination. And yet, I post on his article cover -- on my own blog, not even on this high-traffic blog -- and he comes in with a decent, substantive interaction.

Does that contrast rather remarkably with a number of very different occurrences over the last few years, right in our own doctrinal neighborhood?

George Wood isn't one of "us" in the more narrow sense. He has ZERO to gain among us by engaging, and little accountability to us. He hasn't become famous thanks to blog-traffic from us, doesn't make a living on books he sells to us, doesn't pack arenas by tickets we buy. Yet he does not play the "la la la I can't hear you" game, or the "I unlinked you so your argument is insignificant" game.

Kudos to him. Not so much to others.

DJP said...

Now to George's objection. I can see why you might suggest that those two things don't match. I think the clash is only apparent.

Are you saying that the AOG didn't bring Christendom all the people I name, as I would absolutely insist that Biblical Calvinism did not bring the world Fred Phelps?

Have ALL AOG leader as roundly and unequivocally and publicly denounced all the people I named, as ALL Calvinist leaders would roundly and publicly and unequivocally denounce Fred Phelps?

The Blainemonster said...

Enjoying the fisking so far! Love this bit: Yet by contrast a God who walks into the morgue, administers His potion to some of the inhabitants, adopts them and cares for them and keeps them forever — that isn't love. What sense does that make, beyond an initial emotional flutter? Particularly when you factor in that He not only owed it to none of them, but every last one of them had been His sworn enemies?
Haven't perused the meta yet...any word from Wood as to modifying the cover art? Not that it makes any diff now that the publication has been mailed out already...

Mike Riccardi said...

Dan, I don't have much to add, but I wanted to say that this was an excellent post. It leaves me wondering what response the other side could possibly offer.

In that vein, I'm surprised to not see a comment from Johnny D or the von Borffensteinian you refer to early on in the thread.

Thanks for the effort you continue to put in.

The Blainemonster said...

And now, having read the meta, I see Wood's statement re: the cover art. I repent of my laziness.

Gotta say, I, too, have appreciated his willingness to engage in this conversation and the way he's gone about it.

donsands said...

"It's a message of a righteousness outside of them unto them as ungodly,Rom4v5 to be upon them as their justification unto life.."so believe and live"."-Phil

And why do some believe and others don't?

Marty Summers said...

I consider myself a 5-point Calvinist even tho you'd probably consider me a 4-pointer at best. I have my own view of Limited Atonement that differs slightly from yours. I do agree with the vast majority of what you have said, however, for my own non-Arminian biblical reasons I believe Christ bought the whole world on the cross. There is really only one "big gun" I wrestle with and that is what is called "double jeoardy." Basically this says the Father would be unjust to send any sinner to Hell to pay a sin-debt already paid for by His Son. Our own court systems won't allow such an injustice.

trogdor said...

A couple years ago, Cook County (IL) double-billed us for property taxes. Now if you know anything about Chicago-area politics, you can imagine how much fun it was trying to rectify this situation. It took two whole years of fighting through a bureaucracy more corrupt and incompetent than Scott Adams' worst nightmares, but we finally got it resolved. (And then we got a letter bragging about their streamlined, efficient new process.)

In the end, no matter how far they were willing to go to avoid giving our money back, they ultimately could not avoid the obvious. Since the bill was paid in full once, they could not justify making us pay the same bill again.

With that, I remind you of this from post 1: "It is possible for the same sins to be punished twice". Don't skip over it too quickly. It's an utterly jaw-dropping statement.

The behavior that the cream of the sleazy government crop looked at and said, "Yeah, that's too corrupt and sleazy even for us", Olson casually claims God does to the vast majority of people. Jesus atoned for your sin in full? Big deal, you get to pay the penalty, too. I shudder to think of accusing God of such injustice!

This is a problem for all forms of "universal atonement" that aren't universalism. How can God demand payment for sins which Jesus already paid in full?

mikeb said...

I'm a 4.95 inerrantist because the word inerrancy is not found verbatim in the Bible. And don't even get me started on the Trinity!
/sarcasm off

Carl C. said...

Excellent Dan, thank you for taking the time to write this - it is more practically helpful to me than you may ever know!

One of the most shocking things in his article was the drowning people analogy. I'm pretty dense when it comes to most of the finer points of philosophical and Biblical arguments - I have trouble following a James White talk. So I relish a good illustration, and your morgue bit is brilliant.

But, his illustration is so brazen in how it misrepresents the human condition! As you said, Scripture is crystal clear here - we're the sworn enemies of God; surpress the truth in unrighteousness; thoroughly, unmistakeably, Lazarus-dead in our sins; completely unable to discern spiritual things; and on and on. Floundering indeed... Their bloated corpses are at the bottom of the sea, and only the life-giving Word incarnate can change that. DID change that, in one glorious event, declaring “It is finished" [full stop] Praise God for his undeserved mercy!

DJP said...

Marty, that's not the only issue, but it's a whopper. It's never been answered, to my knowledge. Not adequately.

DJP said...

Carl, amen, and glory to God.

Jeremiah Greenwell said...

The Assemblies of God...I grew up in that church. I remember the days when Calvinism would role of my tongue as an insult of those who made a 'monster' of God. Of course, this from the one who never studied his bible; I hated reading about all that judgment. It was as if the whole bible was condemning me, and the promises which I saw and heard preached every Sunday simply were not a reality.

But it didn't matter much in the end, because God spoke audible to me, through feelings and even 'prophets.' And I had to be doing something right; I spoke in tongues all the time! And I knew that the atonement was effectual for all people, though I never witnessed to anyone because I thought the power was in the presentation. I knew if that was the case no one would ever be saved by me, because I am easily an altogether forgettable person.

It wasn't until my god failed me through some promise in some dream that I had which simply fell to shambles. I was destroyed and I knew my whole belief system had met its end. I was a wreck through it all to begin with; my beliefs, founded in a zeal which I knew to be biblical (Send the fire!) did not work, period.

But in God's grace, I picked up the bible and started studying for myself.

I'm not a zealous Calvinist because some smart man behind a pulpit told me I should be. I'm not even a Calvinist because I reject Arminian doctrine. I believe in a limited atonement effectual for some because, first of all, the bible teaches it. But I also know beyond a shadow of a doubt that left to my own devices I would be dead right now. There is nothing in me that chose Christ, except now the Spirit of Christ Who chose me. And those who die will continue in death because God created it to be for the praise of His glory. (Proverbs 16:4)

All that to say, I agree wholeheartedly with your conclusion Dan:

"What is needed is for them to change their minds on this issue."


Aaron said...

I can't wait for your AoG post. Personally, I don't get how somebody stands in the shadows of the greatest evangelists, who were Calvinist, and claims that Calvinism is a challenge to the gospel

The Blainemonster said...

Jeremiah, I'm right there with you. That is, in the sense of identifying with your story. ;)

Phil said...

Don..last message- you missed the point. The point is not so much 'why',it's ' through what message'. A message which can say to anyone,there's righteousness freely unto you on the grounds of the death and resurrection of Christ, or not. 'Or not' isn't grounds for faith, whatever one believes about election..My first comment that was removed,for example,showed a quote from Calvin apparently articulating universal atonement,but not universal application. The atonement working differently than as in limited atonement.

donsands said...

Let's just try and answer this one for me, even though I missed your point.
Why does one wretched-rebel, who hates God, dead in their sin, with a stone hard heart, Believe, and another rebel with the same wicked soul not believe?

Give me your best guess, if you would.

Phil said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Phil said...

Don, last time..this wasn't about "why?" I wasn't taking up an argument for or against Calvinistic election. The question is "how" does anyone (who is dead in sin, if you will) become a new creation in Christ? I.e. through what message? And I wasn't making a question of it to be "instructed" or to give you my "best guess", but making a point of it. Simply, you need an objective gospel that says the atonement does have reference to you as a sinner, without any work of God in your heart as yet as qualification to be justified or to find out that you were part of an atonement limited in-and-of-itself. Whether God moves first to bring that message to you with power is irrelevant - it's not my point. The point is what is the power of God to salvation in new birth comes through a certain, objective message, Rom 1v17..faith is a response to the same thing, whether "monergistically" created or not. The message depends on the atonement having reference to all, through Christ. "Righteous is unto you in Christ".

That is all. :)

Carl C. said...


I see now that it wasn't my unique struggle to come to grips with Calvinism. But man, your 12:45 PM comment was just EERY in accuracy! I found myself saying "yep", "exactly", "ouch!" to every piece:
- fight kicking and screaming against it
- congratulate yourself... for inventing a scheme where God "predestined" based on what he "forknew"
- come up with any excuse... that all those passages about election don't mean what they say, or just ignore them entirely

And yes, I kept "fighting until the weight of scriptural evidence completely overwhelmed [me]"! In my case, this came only shortly after I was saved, at the tail end of several decades of Pharasaical, cultural quasi-christian living. So it makes the doctrines of grace that much more precious to me - I am continually awed at a persistent God who relentlessly pursues a bullhead like me.

donsands said...

"Whether God moves first to bring that message to you with power is irrelevant.."-Phil

That says it all for me. That's where we disagree big time.

“ I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules."-Ezekiel 36:24-27

God seeks us, and He saves us.

Why did I believe, and not my brother, who was a better man than me, becuase God took my dead soul, and gave me a quickened soul in my flesh; He took my selfish heart of stone, and gave me new heart, so that I might believe the Gospel, as He unvailed it to me.

I really don't know exactly when God caused me to be His:-Somewhere in 1984-85.

But my heart was changed, and I began to understand the truth, and God raised me up in His Word, which was food for my soul.

Actually God was always with me, even from the foundations of this world, in one sense.

I was regenerated by God the Holy Spirit, and brought into the kingdom, just as God tells us in Ezekiel.

You don't believe this Phil, and that's okay. You are not Reformed, and I am.

And so that is where we need to end our discussion.

Thanks for sharing your heart.

I pray we will both continue to prayerfully seek His truth; His Word is truth.

The Blainemonster said...

Gotta say, it's been a blessing to see this discussion blossom, in many places, into personal testimonies of our sovereign God's glorious saving power. Start talking about His purposes in seeking and saving the lost, and you can't help but give Him glory. :)

Stuart Brogden said...

Dan, you said, "there is no single verse that expressly says, in so many words "Jesus died to atone fully for the sins of the elect and nobody else.""

Doesn't Ephesians 5:25 ff say this? while it does not go so far as to specify that Christ did not die for the goats, it does for whom He died. And, as sin can only be punished once, so can even the Son of God die only once. And for only one people.

Phil said...

Don, I never said i did or didn't believe unconditional election...you're totally missing the point..my point! I'm through.

DJP said...

Jeremiah G - powerful testimony. Thank you for sharing it.

DJP said...

Manfred, that's just the point. It doesn't say the whole package of limited atonement. But it is part of an overwhelmingly powerful cumulative case, yes.

Anonymous said...


I'm disappointed that you doubled down on your statement that Swaggart et al. are representative of the AG.

Since the opening paragraph of your first post on Olson's article is not germane to the substance of your critique of that article, I won't spend any more time critiquing it, except to note the following fallacies:

1. Distinguishing Fred Phelps and "biblical Calvinism" smacks of the not-a-true-Scotsman fallacy.

2. Your "have...denounced" vs. "would...denounce" distinction introduces yet another double standard, whereby the AG is judged by what it has done but "Calvinist leaders" by what they would do.

3. How you know what any Calvinist leader, let alone "ALL" Calvinist leaders, would do in the future is beyond me. Do you have middle knowledge of "ALL" Calvinist leaders' future actions?

4. Do you even know who "ALL" Calvinist leaders are? If not, how can you be confident in your knowledge of what "ALL" of them would do?

5. Even if I assume--for the sake of charity and for the sake of argument--that "ALL Calvinist leaders" would denounce Fred Phelps, I could cite any number of "biblical Calvinists" who have committed bad acts: Calvin's involvement with the prosecution and execution of Servetus; the Puritans' banishment of Roger Williams, burning of Salem witches, and hanging of Boston Quakers; Dabney's and Thornwell's defenses of chattel slavery in the American South; etc.

(As an aside, I would assume that "biblical Calvinists" recognize that total depravity touches everyone, even themselves.)

6. Even if you were absolutely right, namely, that your citation of Swaggart et al. isn't a double standard, it's still an ad hominem. In other words, even if the AG produced Swaggart et al., that doesn't invalidate its belief regarding limited atonement.

So, to recap: not a true Scotsman, claims to middle knowledge of future counterfactuals, claims to know the mind of "ALL" biblical Calvinists, numerous counterexamples, and of course ad hominem. That's a lot of fallacies in three paragraphs.

By the way, and FWIW, the AG defrocked Swaggart and Bakker. Crouch's credentials lapsed in 1975.

I'm printing out and reading your responses to Olson over the weekend. I'll try to put something up on Monday.


donsands said...

"I never said i did or didn't believe unconditional election"-Phil


You need to go back and take your time and read Dan's teaching methinks.

Have a terrific weekend in our Savior's truth and grace.

David said...


I'd like to comment on a couple of points.
Firstly your opening statement in part one seems to imply that 'if they say this about other stuff, you can't trust what they say about limited atonement'. It comes across (to me at least) as a 'guilt by association' form of reasoning to prep the reader. I'm sure you're aware that not all Arminians are AOG, but maybe that's just me nit-picking.

However, I also think you tend to set up straw-man arguments, loosely based on quotes from Olson's article. For example, in part one you assert that he "immediately confirms that very reasoning" and then quote him "in full". But the quote actually states the opposite- viz "This does not imply they save themselves". You then set up a straw man- "Clearly, not because of anything Christ did". Clearly? Anything? Sorry, but I don't agree.

You appeal to 'Biblical and logical interest', but I think Calvinism has logical (and in my view Biblical) problems as well.
In part two you state "You have all men without exception completely unable to respond to God." and "God walks into a morgue…". The problem I have is that Calvinists tend to extend the doctrine of 'spiritually dead' into a form of physical death in this life. Calvinists keep saying you cannot reason with someone who is dead, and someone who is dead cannot respond, and yet four times in Acts it states that every Sabbath, Paul 'REASONED in the synagogue, trying to PERSUADE Jews and Greeks". Even your very last statement "IF HE BELIEVES (emphasis mine) in Him, he will be saved" is logically (to my mind) Calvinistically weak. How can he believe if he is dead? Also, the word 'if' makes it conditional, and yet election is unconditional. At best a Calvinist would logically have to say "when you believe, you confirm you are one of the elect". And yet 'if' is repeatedly stated or implied in Biblical evangelism. It strikes me that every time the Gospel is proclaimed in Scripture the clear assumption is that salvation is available to all, if they repent and believe.

Now I know you'll tell me to go and re-read all the posts, but I'm sorry, I'm still not convinced. In the meantime, I hope as believers that we can disagree without being disagreeable. :)

God bless


Tommy said...

You know you’re in a good place when you can’t decide if the post, or the comments, are more edifying. Thank you guys, for helping a young Reformed guy in non-Calvinistic San Diego get some much needed encouragement in his convictions.

Eric said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DJP said...

Hi David,

You misread me. I am not saying that saying that the AOG is unreliable about limited atonement because of the appalling people it's supported. I spend two posts detailing why Olson (is he even AOG?) is wrong. Were the errors or abuses of ANY of those AOG types on the cover of that magazine? Nope. But affirming the Biblical doctrine of God's sovereignty in salvation is.

Next: so Olson denying the implications of what he affirms settles the issue? Cool. Then I deny your assertion! Done!

(Others insist on thinking more analytically, thankfully.)

Then you finish by basically ignoring everything in both posts and saying "Is not." So I will respond with "Is so." The difference is that I explained why "is so," and anticipated and countered your argument.

Eric said...


The word "if" is conditional, because we don't know who the elect are. Using this word is not inconsistent at all with reformed soteriology.

It's like this: God commands that we preach the gospel. We preach the gospel. God calls whom He will to repond to that gospel proclamation with saving faith. We can't see or know whom God will call. Therefore, we may rightly and consistently say "if" so-and-so believes, he will be saved.

DJP said...

George: I'm disappointed you didn't answer my questions: "Are you saying that the AOG didn't bring Christendom all the people I name...? Have ALL AOG leader ...roundly and unequivocally and publicly denounced all the people I named...?"

Shade "all" any way you like, I will try to defer to your greater familiarity of the AOG though you do not defer to my familiarity with Calvinist leaders.

I appreciated what I read of the AOG's handling of Swaggart's one sin. Is it your position that Jimmy Swaggart was a fine representative of the AOG until his sexual sin?

I'm also disappointed at your response concerning Fred Phelps. It isn't a "no-true-Scotsman" fallacy. If someone says "I'm a political conservative who believes in government management and control of human life," I have a right to question the premise. Words mean things.

How many Calvinist denunciations of Phelps would you like me to produce? Can you produce one leading Calvinist approbation?

As to the connection between the sorts of leaders the AOG produces and Arminianism, please see my earlier response to David. That point is scheduled for development in the third post.

Stuart Brogden said...


I am convinced that the repeated declaration from Scripture - that Christ gave Himself for the elect - leaves no room to say He might have given Himself (in vain) for some who perish. I offer Galatians 1:3 &4. Verse 2 reveals for whom Christ gave Himself. None in Hell can claim His blood.

Anonymous said...


Evidently, there's a lot of disappointment going around.

Were Swaggart et al. AG? I answered this question implicitly when I noted that they had either been defrocked or let their credentials lapse. Obviously, one cannot be dismissed from or leave an organization that one has not joined.

Did "ALL" AG leaders denounce Swaggart et al.? Both ordination and dismissal are actions of the General Council. So, implicitly, yes. I would have no way of knowing whether each and every credentialed AG minister individually denounced Swaggart et al., any more than you know whether "ALL" biblical Calvinists would denounce Fred Phelps. And by the way, is there a term limit on this denunciation? Or is he the AG's Emmanuel Goldstein, the object of our perpetual, ritual denunciation?

And which of Swaggart's pre-sin doctrines should the AG denounce? His Arminianism? His Pentecostalism?

I'm happy to concede your knowledge of Calvinist leaders. Heck, I'll name some of my favorite Calvinists: John Calvin (I often used his commentaries in sermon prep), Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, Charles Spurgeon, B.B. Warfield, J. Gresham Machen, Cornelius Van Til, Andreas Kostenberger, Greg Bahnsen (now deceased, of course, but a personal acquaintance and teacher), Mark Noll (also a teacher), Leland Ryken (also a teacher), Phil Ryken (a senior when I was a freshman at Wheaton), Steve and Reed Jolley (pastors of Santa Barbara Community Church, buddies, and renters of my AG church building for nearly 10 years), and my all-time personal favorite: Alvin Plantinga.

Can you name some of your favorite AG leaders? (Other than me, of course!)

On not-a-true-Scotsman. I agree that words mean something. I take it that Phelps is a Calvinist, which I will minimally define as meaning he adheres to TULIP. Or BACON. (The BACON acronym is genius, by the way.) Further, I assume he's a Calvinist because he thinks the doctrine is biblical. Hence, "biblical Calvinist." Hence, the not-a-true-Scotsman fallacy.

However, I'm more than happy to be corrected on this point. Perhaps Phelps does not adhere to TULIP/BACON? Perhaps "biblical Calvinism" means something in addition to TULIP/BACON? I don't know how you're defining the term here. Some guidance would be appreciated.

I actually searched TeamPyro's archives for "Fred Phelps" and found pages and pages of references. So, I know that some biblical Calvinists have denounced him. And I'll guess that some biblical Calvinists will denounce him in the future (as he perpetrates more silliness). Unfortunately, "some" does not equal "ALL," and you claimed "ALL" (even putting the words in caps).

I'm wondering how you're going to sketch "the connection between the sorts of leaders the AOG produces and Arminianism" when you don't seem that familiar with AG leaders, other than the rotten eggs.

Look, we could go round and round on this all day--and you'd still be wrong :)--but it's a waste of both of our time. If you think Swaggart et al. are representative of the AG, there's nothing I can do to stop you. I don't think Fred Phelps is representative of Calvinism. If you think AG ministers' bad acts disprove their theology, I can't stop you. I don't think Calvin's bad acts (or the Puritans' or Dabney's or Thornwell's) disprove Calvinist theology.

From personal observation and long experience among Christians, I have learned that people with good theology nevertheless do bad things.

I'll let you have the last word on the subject. Like I said, I'm going to read your posts over the weekend and post a response Monday. (I should add a "maybe" in there somewhere.)

God bless you in your ministry this Sunday!


Phil said...

Don..what Dan says is not new to me. (I used to hold to it). Though I think the fact that there's more breadth inside "Reformed theology" historically than what reduces to "limited atonement" seems to be to you. Not that I seek to identify with Reformed theology..just a pure new covenant and it's life in union with Christ.

You should be able to agree that there's no regeneration without the message of the gospel,whenever it comes, and you should be able to see that the message of the gospel doesn't have a subjective basis of "what *may* be unto those outside of Christ if indeed something happens in their hearts". (Rom 4v5).

DJP said...

George, I trust we can rise above our disappointments and find reason to rejoice and worship this Lord's Day.

Otherwise (not in order): I'm sorry, I'm really not trying to be coy, but I've never said or tried to say "Arminianism stinks because, look — Jimmy Swaggart!" That never was the point, and I never said it. Hopefully my point will be clear (if not utterly compelling) next Tuesday.

I see we share some favorites. As to me to-AOG-ward, sorry, when you took your name off the list, you cut it in half. In my early years in Sacramento, best sermon I heard was by the late Glen Cole, a name I'm sure you'll recognize. Unfortunately, the service then dissolved into genial chaos. But the sermon was very good exposition!

For those keeping score at home, you lead in points due to the 1984 reference.

For now.

Anonymous said...


Glen Cole is a long-time family friend. He recently passed away. Great guy!

I look forward to your Tuesday post.


Kerry James Allen said...

George, which BACON did you like? Dort bacon or my Remonstrance BACON on the first post? And do you disagree that your position requires you to call it "probation" and not "salvation?"

Anonymous said...

I am a former 3-pointer, growing up in a fundamentalist-BBFI PK. Looking back, we really only believed that salvation was secure (albeit by our faith and not God's strength). However, by God's grace, I have been taught by the Spirit the wonders of the Gospel that actually has the power to tilt the world. As I ponder on the debate between these two views, I can't help but ask "Why?" What is it that draws man's heart to the "Arminian-gospel"? DJP, you said "What sense does that make, beyond an initial emotional flutter?" Suggesting that it is motivated by a desire to feel good. So that is my question. What does the the unlimited-atonement offers us that the repulsive limited-atonement doesn't? A God that makes us feel good? A God that is our fan? If not good exegesis, then what is the appeal?

Anonymous said...


I love acronyms. Even if I disagree with the content, I like ones that are clever. The Dordt BACON is a much meatier, far more American way to state Calvinist soteriology than TULIP.

Yes, I disagree that Arminianism requires salvation to be probation.


DJP said...

George is now my favorite living Arminian. That I can think of.


Linda said...

I love acronyms too--especially when they are tasty.

as one guy stated recently, "finally theology I can sink my teeth into"

Kerry James Allen said...

George, I think you're a great guy, and have been more than gracious to everyone whom you have interacted with, and yet you can somehow in your mind hold to the dichotomy of a salvation that saves and yet may not. I return to my previous post giving the definition of "probation" which is: "Subjection of an individual to a period of testing and trial to ascertain fitness." You simply cannot deny that if you commit the "big sin," whatever that is, or draw back from faith you have failed in your probation and you are thereby lost. I have nothing more to say, but you can "semanticize" (new word?) all you want, but if you have salvation you can potentially lose you are only enduring probation and not enjoying propitiation.

donsands said...

"(I used to hold to it)."-Phil

I used to not.

I see Ezekiel 36 as powerful truth to show us that it is God, not us.

God said, "I will give you mercy, My Spirit, and not because of you, but for My glory i am doing this.

The Holy God of the universe takes a human heart that hates Him, genuinely hates Him, and makes it a heart that loves Him.

I would have eternally hated God, if He had not sought me, and made my dead soul alive.

I surely do love the Holy Lord of creation now, and I love Jesus the Holy Lamb of God, BUT only because He first loved me.

Why did He love me?

That is the question for me.

But not for our Church today.

In fact the Church preaches that God is in love so much with the rebels in this world that he pleads for them to accept Him. There's a CCm song that says, 'Please don't turn away from Me."

Very sad false god this god of the pomo Church.

The teaching that God loves and redeems those whom he loves is powerful, and incredible when it is seen in the whole counsel of God's Word.

Have a good Lord's Day.

Phil said...

Don, you're still missing the point. It [my point] isn't about who saves us, us or God, it's not about Arminianism vs limited atonement Calvinism..it's about limited atonement vs unlimited. It's not about "do I love Him because he first loved me,", it's about "through what message unto me do sinners come to love Him? Can you see the difference? Because you are unfailingly doing what I would expect a strict limited atonement-ist to do - collapsing everything onto a strictly limited atonement..which surely reduces the gospel message to something subjective. Which is what my comments were talking about.

For what it's worth, I believe in a unilateral new covenant of grace. Christ is my righteousness, my sanctification, my life, and I am dead to the law. I don't have to pray for God not to turn away from me, and I don't have to pray for forgiveness or call myself a miserable sinner because I still sin.

Forget the pomo this or that for a mo..(to us Brits who aren't acquainted with [1980s?] philosophy that's mostly an Aussie slang term for us, as far as everyday people are concerned.) Does God plead with people? Does he love all?

Is 1v18, "come let us reason together", Old Covenant Israel anyone? Full of even eros-like descriptions of God's love for an unbelieivng people, many/most of whom "were not all Israel" .."God so loved the world that.."?

Here's Spurgeon on God's desiring the salvation of all out of love - and a 5pointer at that;

1 Timothy 2:3-4,

"You must, most of you, be acquainted with the general method in which our older Calvinistic friends deal with this text. "All men," say they, - "that is, some men": as if the Holy Ghost could not have said "some men" if he had meant some men. "All men," say they; "that is, some of all sorts of men": as if the Lord could not have said "all sorts of men" if he had meant that. The Holy Ghost by the apostle has written "all men," and unquestionably he means all men. I know how to get rid of the force of the "alls" according to that critical method which some time ago was very current, but I do not see how it can be applied here with due regard to truth. I was reading just now the exposition of a very able doctor who explains the text so as to explain it away; he applies grammatical gunpowder to it, and explodes it by way of expounding it. I thought when I read his exposition that it would have been a very capital comment upon the text if it had read, "Who will not have all men to be saved, nor come to a knowledge of the truth." Had such been the inspired language every remark of the learned doctor would have been exactly in keeping, but as it happens to say, "who will have all men to be saved," his observations are more than a little out of place. My love of consistency with my own doctrinal views is not great enough to allow me knowingly to alter a single text of Scripture. I have great respect for orthodoxy, but my reverence for inspiration is far greater. I would sooner a hundred times over appear to be inconsistent with myself than be inconsistent with the Word of God. I never thought it to be any very great crime to seem to be inconsistent with myself, for whom am I that I should everlastingly be consistent? But I do think it a great crime to be so inconsistent with the Word of God that I should want to lop away a bough or even a twig from so much as a single tree of the forest of Scripture. God forbid that I should cut or shape, even in the least degree, any divine expression. So runs the text, and so we must read it, "God our Savior; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." (Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Vol. 26, Pilgrim Publications, p.50.)"...

Phil said...

Surely at the least you should see that your view of the atonement had better not have to deconstruct and reconstruct that verse around a limited atonement.

Some more quotes from "your camp";

John 1:29 “The next day John saw Jesus coming towards him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.'"

Says JC Ryle; "Christ is . . . a Savior for all mankind . . . . He did not suffer for a few persons only, but for all mankind. . . . What Christ took away, and bore on the cross, was not the sin of certain people only, but the whole accumulated mass of all the sins of all the children of Adam. . . . I hold as strongly as anyone that Christ’s death is profitable to none but the elect who believe in His Name. But I dare not limit and pare down such expressions as the one before us. . . . I dare not confine the intention of redemption to the saints alone. Christ is for every man . . . The atonement was made for all the world, though it is applied and enjoyed by none but believers."

Calvin on that verse; “He uses the word sin in the singular number for any kind of iniquity; as if he had said that every kind of unrighteousness which alienates men from God is taken away by Christ. And when he says the sin of the world, he extends this favor indiscriminately to the whole human race.”

Calvin on Jn3v16 "He has employed the universal term whosoever, both to invite all indiscriminately to partake of life, and to cut off every excuse from unbelievers. Such is also the import of the term world which He formerly used [God so loved the world]; for though nothing will be found in the world that is worthy of the favor of God, yet He shows Himself to be reconciled to the whole world, when He invites all men without exception to the faith of Christ, which is nothing else than an entrance into life"

Calvin on Rom 5v18 "Romans 5:18 tells us, “Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.”...“He makes this favor common to all, because it is propoundable to all, and not because it is in reality extended to all [upon them]; for though Christ suffered for the sins of the whole world, and is offered through God’s benignity indiscriminately to all, yet all do not receive Him.”

Cheers. I won't be replying to any more cherry-picked phrases in my comments..Have a good weekend, too, Don.

donsands said...

"..it's about limited atonement vs unlimited."-Phil


God surely could have had mercy on every rebel-sinner, if He so desired.
And God could have left us all under His wrath as well.
In fact, I am blessed to understand that all the world hates God, and we all deserve to be judged and told by God, "Depart from Me."
There's none good, no not one.

Yet God purposed for His glory to save wretches, first of all for His glory, and also, He set His perfect powerful love and affection upon rebels, and so came and saved these same sinners under His wrath, so that we might be with Him in His presence for all eternity.
A billion years from now, we will have no less days to sing His praise.


Phil said...

Don, you would seem to argue that the gospel is a message of what Christ did for the elect, and what is true for them when he gives them faith *without* a message that is truly unto them considered as "sinners" (rather than as "elect") before they are saved..rather than an objective message of good news by the Spirit, that there is righteousness freely unto sinners in Christ *as sinners*, whoever they be. A message he saves by. A message that creates faith in those who are being sanctified unto God. A message whereby people lay hold and receive "abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness" (Rom5v17).A message that goes together with new birth.

The scope and thrust of what you've articulated in your comments doesn't give gospel warrant to believe and be saved. They just logically collapse to presenting a gospel message of what God does because of what God did..and if I consider myself in (via experiencing God's works in my heart) "what is mine".

But the warrant for faith is not in me, but in the risen Christ through the finished work on the cross. Without a doctrine of the cross that gives warrant for gospel faith to any sinner (that is more than invitation/command,but actual basis for it in inclusion as a sinner), one logically has to turn to look in oneself for it,and view oneself according to the flesh.

(Out of interest, it seems John Newton believed Jn1v29 means there's actual gospel warrant of sorts, on account of the work of the cross, for a whole world of sinners to believe and be saved if they would. He held that at the same time as believing in a particularist election of grace.)

Ok, last one from me! I'm not very good at saying that and stopping it seems.

Ian said...

"Is it your position that Jimmy Swaggart was a fine representative of the AOG until his sexual sin?"

I'm not answering for George but I don't remember anything that was really problematic about the Swaggart ministry, that is for the A/Gers. Dan, what did you have in mind?

donsands said...

"..the gospel is a message of what Christ did for the elect"


The Good News of Christ dying for me, personally, is why this good news is beyond all belief!

A sinner is saved by God. God saves us when we were dead.

It's the truth of the Bible. It's a deep truth, that has no end to it's depth really.

Thanks for the discussion. May we both grow in His truth and grace every day, and even every hour, for this pleases our Abba Father, and our Savior and Friend, Jesus the Christ.

All for the Cross! Gal. 6:14

Reforming Guy said...

Hey, I'm getting to the party late, my apologies. I haven't read all 99 comments.

You wrote:
Olson says in effect God walks into a morgue, plop down an elixir of life, and heartily inform the corpses "I love each and every one of you so much that whosoever reaches out and drinks may live" — and that is real love.

I think, depending on a universal or individualistic understanding of prevenient grace is used, the illustration would actually look like Jesus walks into a morgue and revives everyone for a few minutes, or maybe makes everyone alive but still chronically ill, maybe final stages of cancer, and then tells them to drink the elixir (great word usage!).

Universal P.Grace would say everyone is taken from dead to final stage cancer, and Individualistic P.Grace would say it applies to those who hear the Word of God preached.

Your illustration looks more like an Arminian who holds not only to total depravity but also to total inability, yet somehow must also hold to libertarian free will.

But, I may be wrong. BTW, I'm a 5 pointer, just trying to be fair.

Thanks for going through Olson's article!

DJP said...

I am presenting what Olson says contrasted with Scripture. Perhaps the Arminian "out" would be the "only most dead" nonsense. By contrast, Jesus' drawing results in the resurrection of life (Jn. 6:44-45). What of it?

Reforming Guy said...

Oh nothing in particular. I find it difficult to get through Eph 2:1-3 thinking that the ultimate grace of 2:4 is assuming p.grace. I agree with you. I just wouldn't want an Arminian to just blow you off because of a perceived misrepresentation of their position.

I've only recently looked into true Arminian theology. If it weren't for the SBC "TS," I'd still be running around calling all arminians semi-pelagian. Now I'm starting to understand the difference.

DJP said...

Thanks. They'll do it anyway, as you'll see if you ever do read this meta (which I don't nec recommend). Olson says A, I say Olson says A and it's wrong, X says no, he never said that. On it goes.

Marty Summers said...

DJP when I said the only big gun I meant the only big gun I haven't necessarily thought through sufficiently for my satisfaction.

I currently have 3 ways to deal with the double jeopardy issue. 1) There is one unpardonable sin (Matt 12:31-32). To me this is the rejection of Christ which places one outside the bounds of saving grace. The schoolmaster leads us to Him by convicting us of sin, righteousness, and judgment. Those who reject Christ are guilty of trodding under foot the blood of Christ and having done despite unto the Spirit of grace (Heb 10:29). For this they deserve much sorer punishment. 2) There are only two eternal abodes. One is with God enjoying His full glory and goodness. The other is without God in a place prepared for the devil and demons not man (Matt 25:41). A place totally void of God goodness. What is God's goodness? Cool breezes, refreshing water, tasty food, safety of light, stability, etc. The absence of these things is the very description of Hell; the only eternal abode for those who reject Christ. 3) Since the Second Adam died for the universal sin debt we incurred thru the transgression of the First Adam then He can now pardon or condemn any sin committed by any sinner. Since He did not die for particular sins of particular people then we can still die in our sin.

I am still waiting to hear your explanation for these three issues. None of your posts or responses has mentioned them: 1) How do you explain the sufficiency of the cross? Every Calvinist I know believes the cross is sufficient for all sinners but very few even try to explain how. 2) How can God place the blood of the nonelect on my hands (Eze 33:6) if I have absolutely nothing to do with their damnation? 3) How do you handle the typology of Boaz which supports unlimited atonement?

I'd like to hear you address these issues rather than continuing to hear the same old arguments and so-called proof texts verses.

MFuller said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MFuller said...

I too, as Jeremiah, grew up AG. According to the grace and mercy of God, our path away from Armini-whatever was a sharp jolt of an earthquake - courtesy of a "discernment diva". Followed by the last seven years on a gentle slope out of the errors associated with the AG - courtesy of excellent exegetical preaching/teaching from our pastor, this blog, Living Waters, etc... I'm still befuddled by the apparent lack of doctrinal understanding even among people like Glen Cole. Yeah, his sermons could be on target, but how they worked out in us as the sheep was shaky at best (20 years). Doctrine just wasn't taught specifically... apparently the Sunday School curriculum is available from Springfield (or was at one point). But the best I could say for anyone discussing doctrine at CCC was the couple of classes you took to become a member. And to be honest, this is the first time I've even heard of Limited Atonement. I've heard of TULIP, but I've got four kids, homeschooling, cooking, life, I'm doing the best I can to just trust God is bringing me out of this in His timing as He gives me the wisdom to understand it all. So I don't always seek everything out right now. But I can honestly say I land with the Calvinist on this, not because Dan made a better argument or because I'm apt to avoid anything associated with the AG, rather because it stands up under scriptural scrutiny. Thank you, Dan, for another step up out of the dark hole into the light. And I would agree, the AG & Armini-whatever can at the very least cause some real harm to the Church...and Swaggert is only the tip of the ice burg. Anyone heard of Bill Johnson? Mr. Wood will somehow work in the word "autonomous" to defend that one. Here's my last statement concerning the difference between the Calvinist and the Arminian as I have experienced the two: The Arminian pastor (with the exception of a few) believes his flock is a bunch of dumb sheep who need the entire Bible brought down to the lowest common denominator. The Calvinist pastor (with the exception of a few) knows his flock is a bunch of dump sheep whose minds have been quickened by the Holy Spirit to understand the truths found in scripture. And the two different pastors act accordingly...the Arminian talks down to his flock believing all the while it is in love, while the Calvinist trusts in the Word of God and it's sufficiency, preaching to please only the One who rescued him from death.

Marty Summers said...

I believe the doctrine of the suficiency of the cross, 2Pe 2:1, and the typology of Boaz clearly teach that Christ somehow on the cross bought all humanity while purchasing a bride or to put it another way somehow on the cross Christ bought all humanity while redeeming only the elect. Believing that does not make one any less a 5-pointer and it doesn't require twisting Scripture.

donsands said...

"bought all humanity"

Even Judas?

Marty Summers said...

bought like 2Pe 2:1 says and like Boaz did for the whole field but not redeemed like the context of 2Pe 2:1 says and like Boaz only redeemed Ruth not Orpah

donsands said...

So Jesus died for the "son of perdition", and He didn't die for the "son of perdition".

One thing is for sure, Judas would have been better off never being born. And that goes for all of us in all realty,- or in all truth,- unless God loved us, and came and redeemed us to Himself.

I suppose we disagree.

Marty Summers said...

I view the sufficiency of the cross in terms of what He bought whereas I view the efficiency of the cross in terms of who He purchased as His bride.

Anonymous said...

This afternoon, I posted the following apology for the summer 2012 cover of Enrichment on our website:

On behalf of the editors of Enrichment, I would like to apologize for any offense or confusion caused by the cover art of our summer 2012 issue, “21st-century Challenges to the Gospel.” By grouping “Calvinism,” “Annihilationism,” and “Eternal Security” together with various non-Christian ideologies and religions, the cover implied that we believe certain forms of Christianity are as equally challenging to the gospel as outright denials of it. This offended fellow believers who advocate these doctrines, and confused members of our own Fellowship regarding our stance toward those with whom we have principled theological disagreements.

Moreover, the cover miscommunicated both our personal beliefs and the actual content of the issue. My editorial on pages 20,21 clearly states that “not all challenges … are created equal.” It distinguishes those challenges in terms of their respective origins (“nonbelievers” or “Christians”) and effects (“block [the gospel] at its source” or “muddy the clarity and purity of the [gospel].” It also described Christian advocates of these positions as “well-intentioned but theologically misguided.”

We stand by the content of the articles themselves, however. Though fellow believers advocate limited atonement, nonviolent theories of the Atonement, eternal security, annihilationism, and universalism, such doctrines are not part of the Assemblies of God’s theological witness. For example:

Regarding nonviolent theories of the Atonement, Article 5 of our Statement of Fundamental Truths declares: “Man’s only hope of redemption is through the shed blood of Jesus Christ the Son of God” (emphasis added).
Regarding eternal security, Article IX. Section B, Section 1 of our Bylaws states: “The General Council of the Assemblies of God disapproves of the unconditional security position which holds that it is impossible for a person once saved to be lost.”
Regarding universalism, Article IX. Section B, Section 3, Paragraph a. of our Bylaws states: “We are opposed to all forms of universalism.”
Regarding annihilationism, Article 15 of our Statement of Fundamental Truths declares: “Whosoever is not found written in the Book of Life … will be consigned to the everlasting punishment in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (emphasis added).

The Assemblies of God does not have a formal statement on limited atonement. However, what might be referred to as “unlimited atonement” has biblical support (e.g., John 3:16,17; Romans 14:15; 2 Corinthians 5:18,19; Colossians 1:19,20; 1 Timothy 2:5,6; 1 John 2:2) and is testified to in the various systematic theologies and doctrinal primers that have been published by the Assemblies of God over the years. It is the common teaching of our Fellowship.

Nonetheless, the cover art caused offense and confusion, and we regret the error.

For questions regarding this statement, please contact George Paul Wood, executive editor of Enrichment, at gpwood@ag.org or at (417) 862-2781, ext. 3024.


Michael Coughlin said...

Buy my book! Just kidding.

Love you, Dan. Well done and thanks.

Marty Summers said...

Something to ponder: did the Father have any limiatations on who He could choose to give to the Son? I say no. Does the H.S. have any limitations on who He can quicken and illuminate? I say no. The only limitations were self-imposed by the determinate counsel in eternity past. If there is an unlimited aspect to the work of the Father and H.S. why do you insist on tying the hands of the Son and prohibit Him from having any kind of unlimited aspect to His work?

donsands said...

"..prohibit Him.."

God loves Jacob, and hates Esua, why is that?

An even more mysterious truth is that God loved me, and He calls me by name. I'll never understand this love of God; and yet I am overwhelmed by His love, and eternally secure in His loving hands, and no one, no devil, can pull me away from the grip of my Abba Father, and Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior and Friend.

Have a good holiday.

DJP said...

All right, this has gotten well past "silly," with folks like Marty and Phil simply in effect saying over and over again "Ignoring every word of both posts, here are my unconnected thoughts about preferring a hypothetical atonement over the Biblical model." Good grief, seriously — Boaz? The story of Boaz trumps the direct statements of Scripture about what Christ actually meant to and did accomplish by His work on the Cross?

I should have turned the lights off a while back, and apologize for not having done so. Which I do now.