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Featured The Scope (or extent) of the Atonement

Discussion in 'Bible Study Forum' started by John Caldwell, Oct 1, 2019.

  1. John Caldwell

    John Caldwell Well-Known Member

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    I hope to have a Christian discussion (more than a debate) about various ideas concerning the scope of the Atonement.

    I think first I will need to say by the Atonement I mean the entire work of the Cross (regardless of how one believes sins were actually propitiated or expiated).

    I hold what has been referred to as the "Classic Calvinistic" position in that I do not think that Christ died only to save the elect but I do believe that Christ died to save only the elect.

    In other words, Christ's sacrifice had a general purpose in God's redemptive plan while also having a particular purpose in saving a particular people.

    I depart from Classic Calvinism in that I do not believe satisfying divine justice to be the central aspect of the Atonement nor do I affirm Penal Substitution Theory as encompassing God's plan of redemption.
     
  2. Enoch111

    Enoch111 Well-Known Member

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    Penal substitution -- by definition -- would include the satisfying of divine justice.
     
  3. John Caldwell

    John Caldwell Well-Known Member

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    It would certainly fall into the category (more specific as not only satisfying the demands of divine justice but doing so in a particular way).

    I believe neither at the heart of redemption.
     
  4. marks

    marks Well-Known Member

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    Hi @John Caldwell ,

    Would you mind giving a definition of "atonement"? This is a word I hear people using differently, I want to make sure I'm following what it is that you want to say.

    Thank you!

    Much love!
     
  5. John Caldwell

    John Caldwell Well-Known Member

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    I mean the work of the Christ (of reconciliation) as a whole (from incarnation to resurrection), not a more narrow (and to be fair, proper) definition.

    Scripture uses "reconciliation", which is probably a better term for what God was doing in Christ.

    I hope that helps.

    John
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2019
  6. marks

    marks Well-Known Member

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    So then, well, actually, echoing the King James in Romans 5, about "we having received the atonement", while the Greek word there is for 'reconciliation'.

    The reconciling of God to man? Restoration of God's friendship towards humanity?

    I'm not following what you mean by, not a more narrow definition, I'll let you expand on it.

    Much love!
     
  7. John Caldwell

    John Caldwell Well-Known Member

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    Sure. In terms of reconciliation I was thinking more of 2 Corinthians 5:19.

    By a more narrow definition I was considering things like an offering or atonement to effect actual reconciliation or forgiveness

    Instead I believe the Cross was God reconciling the world (or mankind) to Himself and because of this we urge men to be reconciled to God.

    I believe we are saved through the wages of sin (physical death) and spared the wrath to come (judgment) in Christ. Those who do not believe are judged, but because of Christ's work this Judgment is Christ-centered. This is a part of the Atonement (or Reconciliation) although the sins of the unbeliever are not forgiven.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2019
  8. Mjh29

    Mjh29 Well-Known Member

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    I would like to start by saying that if I bold anything, it is NOT that I am trying to slam anyone. I just bold what I think is the most important parts of my statements.

    Agreed. Too many times, we view the Atonement too narrowly. It is the ENTIRE work of the Cross.

    I would agree that Christ died with the intent of saving His people, not all men. He knew who He was dying for; He gave his life for His bride the Church. I would have to disagree on the fact that I believe that He really did die only for those elect. Here are some of my reasonings and Scriptural supports:

    1.) The fact that Christ did indeed know who He was dying for.

    Christ knew all He was dying for; He knew the number.
    ~ John 10:11
    ~ John 10:14-18 -- Not all men, but for His sheep, which He know the number of
    ~John 10:24-29
    ~ John 6:35-40 -- Not all men ever, but all that the Father gave would come.

    Saying that Christ knew the number for which He died, and then saying He still shed His blood for all men ever would imply that Christ knowingly shed useless blood. Why would Christ endure more punishment then necessary, if He knew the number that were His? What was the justifiable reason God had for knowingly punishing His son for the sins of those He knew were not His?

    Could you perhaps elaborate on these a bit more? Thanks!
     
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  9. John Caldwell

    John Caldwell Well-Known Member

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    Hey Mjh,

    I can elaborate.

    For the first part, I believe that Christ died with the purpose of saving the “Bride”. We agree there. But at the same time I believe that there were other reasons for Christ’s death. Not only are people saved, but people are condemned for rejecting the Light which has come into the world (John 1). Even more than looking at people groups (elect vs non-elect) is the defeat of Satan and the principles of evil. And there is the whole issue of establishing God’s Kingdom.

    Where you start determines where you end. If you look for justice to be satisfied then you end up with the satisfaction of justice. If you look for evil to be vanquished then you end up with the end of evil. If you look for the kingdom to come then you end up with the kingdom that is both “here and not yet”.

    I suspect God’s work of reconciliation encompasses much more than one idea can encompass. I am not really sure that we will ever realize (in this life) the full extent of this work.

    For the second part, I do not believe that Penal Substitution Theory is an accurate picture of the Cross. I don’t believe that at its center lies the “problem” of divine justice. Going back to my previous comments, if you start with the first prophesy of Christ in Genesis then you end up with an entirely different view of the “sin problem” solved at the Cross. You end up not with a payment for our sins but a conquered Serpent conquered and a victorious Son of man.

    Calvinistic Limited Atonement only works if one views the Cross through a lens of Penal Substitution Theory (and if Penal Substitution Theory is correct, then IMHO Limited Atonement has to be correct).
     
  10. Willie T

    Willie T Well-Known Member

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    I have a question for those throwing around the term, "Divine Justice."

    Is God's "justice" to get "even with", or to "pay back" wrongs people committed……… or is it (as I believe) to make things right?
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2019
  11. John Caldwell

    John Caldwell Well-Known Member

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    I say the latter - to make things right.

    The difference is retributive justice vs restorative justice.

    IMHO which ever one holds determines how they view both God and redemption.
     
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  12. Willie T

    Willie T Well-Known Member

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    So, "two wrongs, don't make a 'right' " applies here? (I wonder if we 'll ever learn to live by that?) LOL
     
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  13. Willie T

    Willie T Well-Known Member

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    Restorative justice? An interesting way to put the totally free deal we all got... without ever having to "repay" anything for even the most vile abuses we lived out. (That IS what you meant, isn't it?)
     
  14. John Caldwell

    John Caldwell Well-Known Member

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    Yes - righting wrongs.

    We do experience the wages of sin (death) but our hope is in the resurrection. We are delivered through death, not from it. Those in Christ are not judged. Those not in Christ are judged. It is all Christ-centered.

    Another way of looking at it is a righteousness apart from the law.

    I do not see the notion that God must punish sin before He can forgive the sinner as being biblical (it seems more of a human idea of justice Scripture speaks against rather than how God works).

    Our philosophies about justice probably has an influence here.

    I believe God is just (the wages of sin is death, it is appointed man once to die and then the Judgment) and the justifier of sinners (those in Christ are not judged). Others see that as a problem God solved (how can God be just and the justifier of sinners if His justice is retributive justice....by punishing someone in order to forgive).

    I believe that by His stripes we are healed, not vicariously punished.

    Anyway, those are my thoughts.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2019
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  15. Episkopos

    Episkopos Well-Known Member

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    For God so loved the world...not just a particular nation....or people.

    Now how and why would God redeem some sinners but not others? All people are in the world are they not? We all need a Saviour.

    As usual people will take this to extremes....as in...only Christians are saved....or else ALL people are saved in the end.

    But neither extreme is biblical and true.

    In God's kingdom there are the saints...and the righteous in the nations that the saints rule over. There are also vessels of honour and dishonour.

    Not so black and white.

    So there is a lot of nuance in the kingdom of God. Not so much in the rigid minds of religious institutional yea sayers.
     
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  16. John Caldwell

    John Caldwell Well-Known Member

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    The Early Church held (by the ECF's writings) that Christ died for the "human family" (or mankind) and bore our sin in that context (the sin of man).

    Personally, I think that the best aporoach.
     
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  17. Episkopos

    Episkopos Well-Known Member

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    The bible relates Christians as ESPECIALLY saved....not exclusively saved. So there is room for God to declare a man or woman righteous who doesn't know the spiritual walk in Christ.

    If the church could just understand the difference between righteousness and holiness....we could take more than one tiny step into kingdom truth and life. The lack of understanding about spiritual things in our day is astounding.
     
  18. John Caldwell

    John Caldwell Well-Known Member

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    While I hold one has to have faith in God (in Christ) in order to be saved (from the judgment) I agree the difference between righteousness and holiness is an important distinction.

    IMHO the error of the argument (of the Scope of the Atonement) is that it ignores Christ redeemed mankind. Those who will be judged are judged by the One by whom they have been purchased.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2019
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  19. Enoch111

    Enoch111 Well-Known Member

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    In order to *make things right* it was necessary for Christ to pay the full penalty for the sins of the whole world. That should be pretty obvious. That was the only way for God to be reconciled to man.
     
  20. John Caldwell

    John Caldwell Well-Known Member

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    Not to answer for Willie, but just to toss in my two cents as I am off today (I'm off everyday, some would say, but I'm not working today).

    The obviousness depends on one's worldview.

    The Early Church did not, as far as we can tell, hold the presupposition that God's justice was retributive justice or even that Redemption was primarily concerned with satisfying Divine Justice regardless of the type.

    Consider Justin Martyr:

    "For although His Father caused Him to suffer these things in behalf of the human family, yet you did not commit the deed as in obedience to the will of God...For the statement in the law, 'Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree,' confirms our hope which depends on the crucified Christ, not because He who has been crucified is cursed by God, but because God foretold that which would be done by you all [the Jews], and by those like to your, who do not know that this is He who existed before all, who is the eternal Priest of God, and King, and Christ.” (Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho)

    Martyr viewed Christ's suffering not as God cursing Christ but rather Christ being submitted to the curse of mankind to suffer at the hands of wicked men on behalf of the human family.

    This is a difference. The "full penalty" is the condemnation towards which the Law testifies - it is death. The Early Church (by their writings) held it is a death all must pay and a curse under which Christ willingly suffered. The wages of sin is death. But through death is the resurrection.

    Because of sin (human sin) men are under a curse and face the wages of sin which is death. The idea that Scripture is speaking of Christ dying for the individual sins of people in opposition to "our sin being laid upon Him" (the sin of mankind) developed over time. We (contemporary, and especially western, Christianity) has inherited a view that we take naturally.

    IMHO whether right or wrong, we need to be able to recognize other worldviews exist.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2019
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