Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Question No Arminian Can Answer

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  1. The horns of this dilemma are split here.

  2. See John Goodwin's REDEMPTION REDEEMED for an Arminian/Puritan answer to Owen's question. Arminians have answered Owen though few have read Goodwin to know this.

  3. I am not Arminian but rather a Lutheran. Saying that I am free to agree with Arminians when they proclaim obvious truth and Calvinists when they do the same.

    The first one. All sins have been forgiven in the death of Jesus. Yes unbelief is a sin which Jesus said is unforgiven. We receive salvation through faith. Eph 2:8-10

    When a person refuses the gift of eternal life it is not received. John 3:18

    pax domini

  4. I thought this might open up a can of worms (and a Diet of Worms). Are there any Calvinists out there who might have something to say? I need some time to respond since I am job hunting with a backpack full of interviews. Brothers, it ain't easy to find a job here in Kuwait.

  5. Hmmm. So, it seems that some Arminians can answer the question, but at the expense of the doctrine of Christ's vicarious, substitutionary atonement (Which is what the question was based on in the first place). That is too high a price for my budget, what with "todays economy" and all.;-)

    Craig B

  6. @ The Seeking Disciple

    I don't know much about John Goodwin. I don't think he got a star for "perfect attendance" at the Westmenster Assembly. : )

    Seriously though, I have been edified by the writings of some Puritans who had Arminian tendencies, two sterling examples being Baxter and Doddridge. From a Calvinist's perspective, I believe they were wrong on some points, but where they were right, they were so very right.

    God bless,

    Craig B

  7. So, it seems that some Arminians can answer the question, but at the expense of the doctrine of Christ's vicarious, substitutionary atonement

    How would this subjugate the vicarious atonement? If we're saying that unconditional election is the only way one can hold to that, that's just stacking the deck for Calvinism.

    Provisional atonement is vicarious, substitutional, and penal.

  8. To quote Spurgeon is better than my stumbling words:

    I would 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 men be added to it. (Charles Spurgeon, Sermons, Vol. 4, p. 70)

    A redemption which pays a price, but does not ensure that which is purchased -- a redemption which calls Christ a substitute for the sinner, but yet which allows the person to suffer - is altogether unworthy of our apprehensions of Almighty God. It offers no homage to his wisdom, and does despite to his covenant faithfulness. We could not and would not receive such a travesty of divine truth as that would be. There is no ground for any comfort whatever in it. (Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Sermons, Vol. 49, p. 39)

  9. ...and again:

    If Christ on His cross intended to save every man, then He intended to save those who were lost before He died. If the doctrine be true, that He died for all men, then He died for some who were in Hell before He came into this world, for doubtless there were even then myriads there who had been cast away because of their sins. . . That seems to me a conception a thousand times more repulsive than any of those consequences which are said to be associated with the Calvinistic and Christian doctrine of special and particular redemption. To think that my Savior died for men who were or are in Hell, seems a supposition too horrible for me to entertain. (Charles Spurgeon, Autobiography: 1, The Early Years, p. 172)

  10. E2S,

    Christ's atonement is efficacious for all those it was intended. He provided it for all men, and intends to apply it to those in Christ. Therefore it is efficacious for all those in Christ.

    Spurgeon, while a smart guy, didn't really deal with real Arminianism very often, but rather the semi-Pelagianism of his day.

  11. I love the quote from Spurgeon, "Lord save the elect and then elect some more!" Amen to that.

  12. Our friend Old John Gill weigheth in:


    Part 1

    Section 46—1 Timothy 4:1o.

    For therefore we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those that believe."

    These words stand among others, which are said to contain, in express terms, the doctrine of general redemption.[1] But,

    1. If these words represent God, as the Savior of all men, in the sense of a spiritual and eternal salvation, they prove more than any, unless Origen and his followers contend for, namely, an universal salvation. To say that Christ is the Savior of all men, with respect to the impetration of salvation for them, though not with respect to the application of it to them all, is a distinction which must, in part, make the death of Christ in vain; nor can a mere possibility of salvation, nor a conditional one, nor a putting of men into a salvable state, be intended; for then they that believe, would be only in such a precarious and uncertain state; whereas it is certain that he that believeth shall be saved. Besides, if God is the Savior of all men, in the sense of eternal salvation, then he must be the Savior of unbelievers, contrary to many express passages of Scripture; such as John 3:18, 36, Mark 16:16, Revelation 21:8.

    2. The words are to be understood of providential goodness and temporal salvation; which all men have a share in, more or less, God the Father and not Christ, is here called the living God, who is the Savior of all men, that is, the preserver of all men; who supports them in their being, and supplies them with all the necessaries of life, and especially them that believe, who are the particular care of his providence; for though he is good, and does good to all men, yet more especially to the household of faith; which was the foundation. Of the apostles’ trust in him, under all their labors and reproaches, winch attended the preaching of the Gospel. Which sense of the words is perfectly agreeable both to the analogy of faith, and to the context, and is owned by some[2] who are on the other side of the question.


    [1] Whitby, of Redemption, p. 113; ed. 2. III.

    [2] Volkolius de vera Relig. 1. 2,’e. 7, p. 10. See also Crellins de Deo c. 19, p. 133.

    See these resources as well:

    (Long's book "Definite Atonement," available here: is a wonderful resource.

    Berkhof would state that "Savior of all men" is a reference to common grace, in that "Savior" here is not necessarily in a redemptive sense per the Long essay. Reymond's quote is "..., when he [Paul] describes the living God as the "Savior of all men, that is believers" (1 Tim 4:10), he doubtless presumes again that he will be understood, against the earlier contextual background, to mean that God is the Savior of believers, who are found among all categories of men." (emphasis in the original)

    Hendricksen has an extended discourse on this verse in his New Testament Commentary, running from p. 153-156. It can be summarized by quoting from p. 156: "What the apostle teaches amounts, accordingly, to this, "We have out hope set on the living God, and in this hope we shall not be disappointed, for not only is he a kind God, hence the Soter (Preserver, Deliverer) of all men, showering their blessings upon them, but he is in a very special sense the Soter (Savior) of those who by faith embrace him and his promise, for to them he imparts salvation, everlasting life in all its fullness (as explained in connection with 1 Tim. 1:15; see on that passage). Hendricksen writes an extended discussion of the word "Soter" (Savior) as used in the Septuagint and how such usage does not necessarily mean in a redemptive sense.

  13. @Bossmanham

    Okay, So I guess I don't understand. Maybe you could help me get the picture by explaining it to me this way: What statements can an individual make about his own salvation that would shed some light on this "provisional atonement" featured in your link.

    Also, what is, I think it was called "the governmental theory" of atonement, mentioned by someone on that link?

    Do any churches include provisional atonement or governmental atonement in their Confession or statement of faith? Is there some work of systematic theology that shows how either of these concepts of atonement relate within a whole organized body of essential Christian doctrines?

    I would appreciate your cluing me in, brother. : )

    Craig B

  14. You cannot escape a limited atonement, since not everybody is saved. The atonement is limited in either its scope or its effectiveness. If Christ died for everybody, His death is unlimited in scope--but limited in success. If Christ died only for the elect, His death is limited in extent--but unlimited in success. What is more glorious to Christ? Which is more loving to His people?
    It's a see-saw situation. Arminianism raises man's ability and lowers God's. A Biblical view lowers man's ability and gives God the highest honor.

  15. If CH Spurgeon were still alive I would respectfully urge him to set aside his preferences. The issue is not whether one prefers a Limited Atonement or a Universal Atonement. Scripture nowhere teaches a Limited Atonement. It is read into passages, words such as world and all have to be continually redefined and scripture which speaks of lost is due to unbelief not died for.

    Yes Jesus dying for people in hell makes no sense. Put that on the list with things existing only because God spoke them into existence makes no sense either.

    pax domini. †

  16. @ bossmanham

    Arminianism IS Pelagianism they just updated the wardrobe. (see the DVD Cirriculum "Amazing Grace: The History & Theology of Calvinism )

  17. @Arminianism IS Pelagianism

    If Pauper had the foggiest on these issues, he'd know that Arminian concepts like prevenient grace are wholly incompatible with any form of Pelagianism. Just one more lie that too many Calvinists continue to spread.

  18. The sin of rejecting the Free Gift of Salvation and thereby NOT being saved, is the ONLY sin that is not forgiven... It is the sin against the very Holy Spirit of G-d...because rejecting G-d, causes one not to repent, and G-d will ONLY forigive if the PRECONDITION of repentance is met... Shalom from Israel

  19. Number one is correct, with the limited response of man.


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