Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Questions about Middle Knowledge by randy Everest

[This is an important discussion for the debate concerning free-will and predestination.It also has many implications for apologetics. Randy Everest is a very gifted apologist and philosopher. So I have decided to let his work speak for itself. In Christ, Matt]

I have found while people have many questions about the teaching of middle knowledge, once explained it turns out to have been intuitively held by these same questioners. What I mean is that something very much like middle knowledge is believed to be true by the majority of Christians not already committed to some form of Calvinism or Arminianism. What is middle knowledge?

Certainly, it is not (directly) concerning predestination and free will (though it has application in that). Primarily, middle knowledge is related to omniscience. The simplest and most agreed-upon definition of omniscience is that “for any true proposition P, God knows and believes P and does not know nor believe not-P.” This means that whatever is true, be it in the future, now, or past, God knows it. Thus, quite literally, God knows what you are going to do before you do![1]

In order to understand middle knowledge in the context of omniscience, we finite beings break down God’s knowledge by logical relationship. First, there is God’s natural knowledge. This contains knowledge of all necessary truths (like “2+2=4” or “there are no married bachelors”) and all logical possibilities. Thus, one could say this is God’s knowledge of everything that could be. Next, there is God’s free knowledge. This is called “free” because the content of this knowledge is what God chose to be so. This includes God’s knowledge of this actual world (i.e. everything that is true in the history of the world up till now, and indeed throughout the potentially-infinite future).[2] One could say this is God’s knowledge of everything that will be. Finally, we have God’s middle knowledge. This is knowledge of a counterfactual form. This form is “if Gary were in circumstances C, Gary would freely do X.” One could say this is God’s knowledge of everything that would be in any other circumstances. In this way, God’s knowledge spans what could be, what will be, and what would be in every circumstance.

Middle knowledge is actually the conclusion of an argument from counterfactual knowledge. I have already explained the idea of counterfactual knowledge. Is it biblical? Absolutely! 1 Cor. 2:8 states, “Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” See the counterfactual? “If the princes of this world knew X, then they would not have crucified the Lord of glory”! Either what Paul is saying is true, false, or meaningless. Since it seems Paul really is conveying a truth by these words (and not a symbolic, deeper truth as in a parable), we can rule out meaningless. It also seems that Paul is teaching rather than relaying some other account, so that to say Paul was wrong is attacking the doctrine of inerrancy (not to mention we don’t have overriding reasons to think Paul was wrong). The only option left is to believe it is the truth. 1 Samuel 23:10-12 relay the story of David asking the Lord the counterfactual question, “If Saul comes down to Keilah, will they deliver me up?” The Lord answered in the affirmative. Since they did not deliver David up, this is a true counterfactual. Yet the Lord knew it! It seems the case for counterfactual knowledge, at least biblically, is quite solid. God knows what would happen in any other circumstance.

However, as some opponents have been quick to point out, counterfactual knowledge does not, in and of itself, mean middle knowledge. What would make it middle knowledge? Either counterfactual knowledge is known to God logically prior or logically posterior to the divine decree to create the world (or what we had called God’s “free” knowledge).[3] Essentially, counterfactuals here boil down to free choices of individuals. So then, either free will exists or God directly causes individuals to act. While much more could be written, it seems intuitive (for those not already committed to a position) and obvious, both biblically and experientially, that mankind has a free will. Just note if God causes individuals to act he causes them to sin.

So, if free creatures freely make choices, then it is not true that they act because God causes them to act. If that is the case, then counterfactual knowledge is known to God prior to the creative decree (logically). This is also very good, since if God does not force people to act and yet lacked counterfactual knowledge until the divine decree, then God would be completely lucky in getting this actual world. It gets worse: without this knowledge, God would have no idea how any of us would act in situations, including this actual one! God must, in order to create sovereignly and omnisciently, have counterfactual knowledge; specifically, he must have middle knowledge.

God’s knowing what any free creature would do in any set of circumstances is both biblically and intuitively held. If you ask most people on the street without using the relevant theological terms, “do you, as a Christian, think God knows what would have happened in any other set of circumstances?” they would say “yes.” If you asked them if they believe in free will, they would say “yes.” As we have seen, this just makes middle knowledge analytically true (that is, true in virtue of both of those prior question’s answers!). If you believe in counterfactual knowledge and free will, you believe in middle knowledge.

[1] While for some the idea that future contingents can be true now is controversial, we shall proceed with the intuitive knowledge that what I will do tomorrow is true as a datum.

[2] A discussion of why the future is potentially, rather than actually, infinite is an interesting one, but not one which ultimately matters. For our purposes, just know that God knows everything that will happen in this actual world.

[3] Please note that the usage of “logically prior and posterior” does not in any way have to do with time, as though God lacked knowledge at any point.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Biblical doctrine of election

The theological doctrine
Christian theology defines it as God's decision before the beginning of time to pick certain individuals for the entire process of redemption.
"Doctrine of Election, the doctrine that the salvation of a man depends on the election of God for that end, of which there are two chief phases: one is election to be Christ's, or unconditional election or Doctrine of Free Will, and the other that it is election in Christ, or conditional election." wikipedia
"God's plan to bring salvation to His people and His world...." Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (timothy George)

The doctrine as scripture defines it.
"From the Bible, the fact of when and how God chose Israel seems clear. It all began with Abraham and the choice was God's alone. But why did He do it? Why did he make Isaac His "first born son" (Exodus 4:22)? Moses put it rater simply to Israel: "It was because the LORD loved you" (deuteronomy 7:8. But did that love have a purpose? The purpose of God's election was not salvation ( as if the Lord had some preferential claim to the jews), but His purpose was service." David Larson Jews Gentiles and the church pg. 19 discovery House 1995

election and eschatology
Isaiah 42:1Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.

The operation of the Kingdom of God is in a developmental stage. Election is not primarily concerned with atonement as much as it is concerned with the fulfillment of the Davidic kingdom of God. This is a kingdom of Jews and inclusive of the gentiles.

The OT
Exodus 14:5-7
5And it was told the king of Egypt that the people fled: and the heart of Pharaoh and of his servants was turned against the people, and they said, Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us? 6And he made ready his chariot, and took his people with him: 7And he took six hundred chosen chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt, and captains over every one of them.
Here we seethe term "chosen" applying to a pagan King choosing chariots as the vessel for a mission.

Psalms 78:31The wrath of God came upon them, and slew the fattest of them, and smote down the chosen men of Israel.
There is absolutely no possible way that the term "chosen" means chosen for salvation here. First they are bearing the wrath of God and not being saved. Secondly this appears to be referring to men chosen for israeli military duty.

Isaiah 41:2Who raised up the righteous man from the east, called him to his foot, gave the nations before him, and made him rule over kings? he gave them as the dust to his sword, and as driven stubble to his bow.
3He pursued them, and passed safely; even by the way that he had not gone with his feet.
4Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I the LORD, the first, and with the last; I am he.
8But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend.
9Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away.

Notice how the concept of being chosen is rooted in being a servant? according to the Old testament election is a concept rooted in works.

The gospels
matthew12:14Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him.
15But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all;
16And charged them that they should not make him known:
17That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying,
18Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles.
19He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets.
20A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.
21And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.

So fulfillment of being chosen is him a servant going out and healing the multitudes. doing works of God. "chosen" or election is then introduced to the New Testament as a work of service.

Matthew 20:12-16
12Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.
13But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?
14Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee.
15Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?
16So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

So here we have the second mention in the gospels and it is the parable of the laborers. Chosen here is still an employment to work.

Matthew 22:10So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.
11And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:
12And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.
13Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
14For many are called, but few are chosen.

Here again following the pattern few are chosen because the man was not ready for service and therefore not chosen. It is still a term of employment. Granted there is a mention of condemnation. Yet condemnation does not perfectly parallel salvation. You can be condemned by the law without being saved by grace.

matthew 24:24For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
Now it is arguable that this passage is neutral. However, if the saints are justified through faith alone. It would be quite compromising if their justifying faith were allowing to the apostasy of the spirit of anti-christ. So the definition still stands.

Matthew 24:31And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Now this passage has to deal more in terms of eschatology. but the question is< is this refferring simply to the saved or to the servants. I know the two are unified here. But the specific party is to the jews. (matthew 24:15-16) later revelation reveals that prior to this we had the rapture of the church. Christ will take his bride personally. (luke 12:36,john 14:3, 1thess.4:16,5:9, rev. 3:10,4:4)

Now with john there are particular difficulties with interpreting this passage because although Calvinists have long hailed this as an election passage. John does not use the vocabulary of "election" or "chosen". Another issue to remember when interpreting John is that it was written much later than the synoptic gospel around 80 AD after the death of Paul. So John had Paul's revelations in mind as He wrote this final account of the gospels.

John6:26Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.
27Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.
28Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?
29Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

So here we see the natural development of this passage. Jesus had just completed the miracle of feeding the multitudes. So just uses the food as a metaphor. not to work for the perishing meat but to labor for the food which brings everlasting life. the is eternal life brought by the messiah. Vrs. 28 their reply sets the context of the passage. If they are to work towards obtaining eternal life. "what shall we do, that we might work the works of God?" So Jesus lays out the answer "This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." Now this passage is typically isolated and easily assumed that belief is the a work that God has performed. However, if we are following the context of verse 28 then the work of God is referring to the "work that God" wants us to do.
Now I would argue that the term work is here referring to response and not merit. Because a belief is not naturally a work, though it may produce works.

30They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work?
31Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.
32Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.
33For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.

It is obvious that these men are trying to manipulate Christ for more food. they already saw this sign. Jesus redirects him to his point about the messiah. Notice how the act of God is focused on the giving of Christ in the incarnation. While in Calvinism election is a separate work. Jesus is simply securing salvation and not actually saving. However Christ is the work of salvation.

34Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.
35And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
36But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not.
37All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

Notice first Jesus gives the promise of salvation upon faith. This is the work of God of God which they must do. verse 36 they have not believed God. Therefore they are not saved. "all that the father giveth me" let us assume that this the elect. shall come to me. Therefore the elect are always believers.

38For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
39And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
40And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
41The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven.

Notice again, vrs. 40 everlasting life is given only after belief. So if election is after faith as well as salvation then salvation is based upon foreknowledge.

42And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven?
43Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves.
44No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
45It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.

Here we see these Jews argue you with the doctrine of Christ. Claiming that Christ was naturally born. This is a confession of disbelief. Jesus retorts that no man may come unto him. Unless the father takes the initiative to draw him. typically Calvinism will look at the passage and assume that is the drawing of the person of the Holy Spirit. Yet the verse says it is the work of the Father. So we must look into the context to give a deeper understanding of this passage. not all is it that one has to be drawn of God to come to Christ they must also "hath learned of the Father" so being drawn by the father was synonymous with being a disciple of Jehovah.

46Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.
47Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.

We notice again the act of God is not emphasized over what he previously did to the soul of man. It is focused on the incarnation of Christ. Here we see again eternal life being based on the initiative of belief.

48I am that bread of life.
49Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.
50This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.
51I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

Here we see the work of Christ in the atonement is brought forward once again. With as usual language that would be universal (life of the world) and contrary to the Calvinistic doctrine of election.

52The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?
53Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.
54Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
55For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.
56He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.
57As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.
58This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.

This passage is obviously metaphorical speaking of the atonement. Roman Catholics typical want to apply it to the mass. Yet Roman Catholics have all gone threw physical death so far. Here see Christ commanding his atonement necessary for salvation. Notice vs. 56 our connection with Christ is intricately woven into the atonement. But in Calvinism, our election is primary and the atonement is limited to elect. However, if we are only in Christ through the atonement, how elect and yet not in Christ?

62What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?
63It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
64But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.

Here we see that salvation vrs. 64 is based upon foreknowledge even though he had chosen Judas iscariot.
70Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?
71He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.

So if being chosen is for a task then this passage makes sense. But if election means salvation then their is a crack in the chain of salvation and we can never be sure God completes his tasks.

One thing to understand with the apostle Paul is there is an identity shift. Know longer are God's people limited to those of jewish stock. The question is do they fit into God's plan?
Romans 8:28And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
29For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
30Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
31What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

Many Calvinist such as R.C. Sproul claim this to be an unbroken chain of salvation. Although typically they cut the verse short. They start the thought on verse 29 instead of 28. The subject is them who love God. Those who are called(to ministry) according to his purpose. So this is then reference to people who are already disciples. In other words this does not apply to people who do not love God. Nor does it apply to the same people before they had loved God.
If you are a believer you were not being conformed to the image of Christ before you were a believer. You were not called, you were not justified and you were not on your way to being glorified.
John 5:24Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
Ephesians 2:1And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
2Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
3Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

This is a very important concept. Before your were saved, you were lost. But once you enter salvation God's foreordained plan takes effect. God, then in eternity past may have decided to save you. Yet you were not saved until you placed faith in Christ.
ephesians 1:13In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
Romans 5:2By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

rom. 8:33Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.
Here we see the elect possibly for the first time being connected to salvation. So now that the saved are predestined, we know that they are part of God's chosen plan.
Romans 9:3For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: 4Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;
So now that Paul makes the broad statement in 8:33 he must then explain his new application. How could saved gentiles be the elect? Paul knows he has made the new application so he starts off identifying the established orthodoxy The literal born jews are the elect traditionally.

5Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.
6Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:
7Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.

Now typically Christians have made the mistake of assuming that Israel means christian. However in verse 5 it is very clear that Paul is referring to flesh and blood Jews as Israel. Paul states that not all genetic Jews are not necessarily part of the nation of Israel. he then shows how there were several branched that broke off of Abraham's family line.

8That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.
9For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son.
10And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac;

We see the limitations upon the elect. The Jews had become lazy assuming that just because they were born Jewish that God had use for them automatically.

11(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)
12It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.
13As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
14What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.
15For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

God's plan for our lives is his plan and not ours he will use us as he sees fit. The elder shall serve the younger. notes the placement in the kingdom is up to God. Also it is important to note the context of the quote that paul is giving regarding moses. exodus 33:19
18And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory.
19And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.

The context of this verse is concerned with God making his presence felt in the wilderness not concerning how the Lord God's plan for our lives is his plan and not ours he will use us as he sees fit. The elder shall serve the younger. notes the placement in the kingdom is up to God. Also it is important to note the context of the quote that paul is giving regarding moses. exodus 33:19
18And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory.
19And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.

The context of this verse is concerned with God making his presence felt in the wilderness, not concerning how the Lord will choose certain people to faith.

16So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
17For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.
18Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.

Here we see the pharaoh used as an example. This is not concerned with whether the pharaoh was saved. It is concerned with the fact that Jehovah used pharaohs hardened heart to Execute his plan for the redemption of the Jewish nation. Now while election is not concerned with salvation specifically. It is indeed unconditional as noted in vrs. 16. God's providence will not be thwarted.

19Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?
20Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?
21Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
22What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:
23And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,

Verse 20 shows a brilliant response to the complaint concerning faulting God. Paul points out that the antagonists has made a freely chosen immoral complaint against God and his sovereignty. Thus eliminating the possibility of determinism by proving the antagonist free will. Yet this passage is perfectly consist if applied to teaching concerning God's providence as opposed to deterministic salvation.

24Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
25As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved.
26And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.

Here Paul has leveled a massive piece of evidence concerning the saved as part of God's chosen people and plan. They were not his elect and now they are. According to Calvinism this group was always chosen. Thus their doctrine is contradicted.

27Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved:
28For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth.
29And as Esaias said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrha.
30What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith.

Israel was the chosen race to be used by God in His divine plan. Now Gentiles have become chosen to fulfill his plan as well. because they have righteousness through Christ, which has equipped them for such a purpose through their salvation.

31But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.
32Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;
33As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

The Jews whom are unbelieving are no longer of use for the Kingdom of God, since they are not righteous on their on and therefore not saved. Their fault was their disbelief in Christ.

Romans 11:1 I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.
2God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel saying,
3Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.
4But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.

The Jews are still able to be of use in the Kingdom. After the apostle Paul was a Jew. Those who God foreknew as having faith and thus predestined salvation are still his chosen people. Even in then time of Israel's apostasy God had a remnant of servants.

5Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.
6And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
7What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.

So now we see Paul's thesis again. We are God's chosen people and part of his chosen plan through the grace of salvation. We are a part of this plan unconditionally not based on our works. So God will work out his plan through us regardless.

8(According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.
9And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them:
10Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway.

So here we are not looking at God trying to trick the lost out of salvation. Instead we are looking at the power of God's providence that even these apostates will have their deeds prepare the way of the Lord regardless of their evil intentions and their evil hearts will be judge accordingly.

11I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.
12Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?
13For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:

Their evil deeds have been used to allowed the Gospel to spread far across the world and God has made it not that they are incapable of salvation. But is trying to provoke the Jews to jealousy and seek salvation themselves.

14If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.
15For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?
16For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.

The gospel is not for the gentiles to spite the Jews. But in God's providential plan He desires the Jews to gain access to salvation as well.

17And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;
18Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.
19Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in.
20Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:

The Jews and gentiles can be grafted into and out of God's chosen plan/people. This is according to faith since the believer is saved. So it is not based upon on our genetic heritage Jew or gentile, but faith.

21For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.
22Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.
23 And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again.
24For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?
25For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
26And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:

So membership in God's Kingdom is by faith alone. the true Israel is a faithful Israel. Just as the body of Christ is composed of Jews and Gentiles. The body of the elect is both Jewish and gentile. Israel is the Jewish nation. However it is the believers. So the true Israel.(believing Jews) will all be saved. They mention a partial hardening. Which is why it is hard for the Jewish race to accept Christ.(though not impossible.) and the fullness of the gentiles. When all the gentiles that would come to Christ in fact do. after this there seems to be a jewish revival during the end times.
Zechariah 12:10And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.

27For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.
28As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the father's sakes.

So God anticipating this revival has elected the Jews in this revival for his service.

29For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
Here we see it again. God will work out his plan through his saints.

30For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief:
31Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.
32For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.
33O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!

The power of God's providence is overwhelming. that God will indeed bring in the maximum number of people too salvation for his glory. (check out the article on "middle knowledge")

Ephesians chapter 1
3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
4According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

First we notice that the Father has blessed us. "us" according to the Ephesians 1:1 is the saints. Therefore, those who are already saved. Have received "all spiritual blessings in heaven. In accord with the fact that God has chosen the saints. How did he choose the saints? "in Christ" This connects the election of the saints with the election of Christ. So if election is consistent from the Old Testament onward. Then we were chosen in Christ for a service. does it mention such a service? "that we should be holy and without blame before him in love". So yes.

5Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
So here we see the subject. "predestinated us" once again referring to those who are currently born-again saints.

6To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
This was done because God is good and loving.

7In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
Being adopted we also have redemption through blood atonement. Notice how there is now sequence of the blood atonement with adoption. (reformers would like to place it there.)

8Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;
9Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
10That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
11In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
12That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.

"we" "who first trusted in christ" are then predestined to have our salvation(an inheritance vs.11)

13In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
Notice the order. first we heard the gospel. then "after that ye believed". we are sealed with the spirit.
So the work of salvation is predestined to believers.

2Timothy 2:10 Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
This is a key passage used by Calvinists to argue determinism. according to them Paul is in search of those who are predestined to be saved and hoping to lead them to Christ. However the elect are identified as those who indeed are saved.
2Timothy 1:9Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
While I may argue that election is distinct from salvation the two concepts are still linked. The elect are saved. more important is to notice the context of the word saved. "In Christ Jesus with eternal glory" this concept is focused on glorification. So when it is talking about the elect obtaining salvation it is referring to glorification in this passage and not justification. I believe Paul is saying elect to indicate That while he can not identify who has faith in their hearts. He identifies the elect because these were people being used by God.
11It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him:
12If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:

Here he is talking about being an example you can't teach discipleship to unbelievers. Many unbelievers find even see the death of Christ as a bizarre self righteous suicide. this was a lesson for believers.

2thessalonians 2:13But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:
Here we see the phrase "Chosen to salvation" an obvious scripture for Calvinism. however chosen is a more general term than elect. There many different types of choices. also we must note that this is through the work of the holy spirit. Since the spirit proceeds forth from the son we must receive Christ before we can receive the Holy Ghost. and again we see the link of the elect being saved contradicting determinism.
14Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Once again the gospel is the essential element of grace. Not a predetermined judgment.

Titus 1:1Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness;
God's elect is faithful. I believe this a reference to Christ.

1peter1:2Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.

2peter 1:10Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
Under traditional reform theology, one is to determine whether God had chose them in eternity past. On a practical level this is ridiculous. Because not only do we not know but there is nothing that we can do to change that. Many reformers would based their assurance of salvation based upon their own works.

Jesus as elect
As we look at the initial scriptures regarding election
Isaiah 42:1Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.
This passage regarding the messiah is a good starting place. If Christ is elect was he chosen to receive mercy or chosen as a servant for a certain task?

Acts 2:22Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:
23Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:

election and Christianity

Israel as elect
4For Jacob my servant's sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me.
Here Jehovah is speaking toward the gentile Cyrus. He is speaking to the future Cyrus and he is speaking of calling him. So God is using Cyrus even though Cyrus is not the elect Israel. So Israel can not mean the body of the saved. but if the elect Israel is the servant Jacob then it all makes sense.
election and the church.
Here we see that election has been taught as a doctrine of the church. Yet scripture puts it for the as a doctrine of the kingdom and what if the kingdom is not the same as the church?

The Kingdom is invisible
Luk 17:20 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:
Luk 17:21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

The church is to be visible
Mat 5:14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
Mat 5:15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

Determinism verses Biblical election.
The Catholic saint Augustine of Hippo prior to his conversion to Catholicism was a skilled professional platonic philosopher. It is no stretch of the imagination that Augustine would apply his platonic philosophy to his interpretation of scripture and theology. In platonic philosophy there is a down play of the material in favor of the spiritual. Also The spiritual World is a perfect world while the physical world is one of distortion and therefore evil. Augustine was a part of the Roman Empire. In his book City of God, Augustine espouses a perfect spiritual Rome Hidden within the darker fleshly reality. Augustine interprets the true spiritual Christians as the elect.(or the true people of God) Since there is nothing good in the material world It is up to the Spiritual God to elect who will be saved and who will be damned.
Determinism can easily become a rival to the gospel because it is offering a different or alternative means of grace.
In the New testament, the gospel is the power of God unto salvation. (romans 1:16) Yet in determinism the gospel becomes secondary to a predetermined election.
Augustine in his commentaries on relevant passages admitted to justification. But in His formal teachings never espoused outrightly justification by grace through faith alone. So his philosophy was designed without the idea of the saving gospel of grace in mind.
Protestant reformers Martin Luther and John Calvin were students of Augustine. And as they tried to make there reforms essentially were try to make a reformed Augustinian Catholicism as opposed to the Thomistic Catholicism reigning over Europe. While they desired their Christianity to be more biblical, it was not there intention to have a perfectly literal form of faith. This can be seen in the way that they separated themselves from Anabaptists and Waldensees. Future protestants in a safer era became less inclined towards Catholicism and more tolerant of biblical Christianity.
But the teaching of determinism had a huge impact on protestantism. It has at times challenge the gospel as well. For instance among those known as hyper-Calvinists there was an avowed effort to suppress missions and in fact what would be known as the anti-missions movement. This is all evidence that Determinism had become a rival to the evangelical gospel.
Yet biblical election is service to the lord and our service to the lord is in the proclamation of the gospel.

election is unconditional yet is not the plan of salvation, instead the plan of the kingdom.

One major problem in this debate has been the fusion of the doctrine of the atonement and election. God has willed to extend his atonement to all since he desires all men to be saved. Yet He has chosen a few. This has caused great controversy through the centuries of Christianity.
Yet The beauty of this new insight is that God unconditionally will use us who are born-again for his purpose. Perhaps some more than others. Yet we we will be his servants. If we have been born-again He will change us and have us to fulfill our calling!

salvation is unconditionally offered but exclusively received.

In the doctrine of imputed righteousness we find that faith is not a work and that the work of salvation belongs entirely to Christ. Thus the new covenant is unconditional.
yet once the hearer has received the grace of the gospel with the power of God unto salvation. It is then the responsibility of the recipient to believe and be saved. This is an exclusive gift.
John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
John 3:18He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
Hebrews 4:1Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.
2For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.
3For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.

Is there a difference between synergistic salvation as advocated here. conditional election?
Essentially while they are very similar, The major difference is that this view recognizes election as unconditional. And if the saved are the elect and God will work out his purposes then salvation is stable and can never be lost.
One could argue that Judas Iscariot was unsaved and yet elect. However this was prior to the Age of Grace and the resurrection as was revealed to Paul. So now that we are under the age of Grace God chooses the born again for his purposes as officially his people.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Why limited atonement is indeed an unbiblical doctrine

The title of this article really speaks for itself. The goal of this article is to deal specifically with the doctrine of limited atonement as opposed to reform theology as a whole. Many bible believing Christians subscribe to reform theology. And many of it's teachings are indeed Biblical. Yet when a doctrine is in opposition to the scriptures, our loyalty must not be toward our friends and traditions. Our loyalty is to God and his Word.

What do we mean when we say un-biblical?
Here I refer back to my own confession of faith. The freedom baptist church confession of faith. article 4 C.
"C. The Bible is authoritative for all in what it says and interprets and the Christian is bound to every thing it specifically says to Christians and everything it implies; though the Christian is bound not to add to His divine revelation. The Scriptures must be judged only in light of the whole of scripture. The Bible can be understood using the historical-grammatical method of study in search of the “plain sense meaning”. With this, diligence, a godly desire to learn, and the illumination of the Holy Spirit, the Christian can eventually understand the complete direct meaning of the Bible. The centerpiece of the revelation of God is Christ Jesus.
John10:35, Habakkuk 2:2, Isaiah 28:9-10, 2Tim 2:15, 3:14-17, Matthew 15:9, Proverbs 30:5-6, Revelation 22:18-19, 1Corinthians 2:5-16, John 5:39"

The Bible is authoritative in it's meaning, in other words what the Bible directly and obviously says. The Bible may also teach something indirectly. Advocates of Limited atonement would argue that it is implied based on the clarity of other doctrines. However scriptures must be judged in light of the whole of scripture. As will be shown the Bible directly and plainly teaches that Jesus died for the sins of all mankind. So the meaning far outweighs the implication.
For instance lets ask the question "did Jesus die on the cross?" Now you could make the case that Jesus is alive and that Jesus is the lord God. That God could not die and that Jesus being sinless should not be allowed to die. Therefore it is implied that Jesus did not die on the cross. But when we have dozens if not hundreds of passages declaring that Christ died, then the implication of Christ not dying is void and the doctrine is completely non-biblical. Such is the case with limited atonement it builds a case of implications to try to overcome the direct plain meaning of the scripture.

how do we define this?
Calvinism is no longer strictly the teachings of John Calvin, at least as the term is commonly used in contemporary times. Normally it is a reference to the soteriology put forth by the synod of dordrecht(dort). Calvinism has splintered off into hundreds of directions and the TULIP or five points of Calvinism has been interpreted and reinterpreted dozens of times over. So there has been a lot of time wasted trying to figure what teachings are actually being debated. So here I provide a very basic definition of this doctrine and then I will go on to look at the commentary of the cannons of dordrecht for the proper interpretation of the doctrine.

"Limited atonement (or definite atonement or particular redemption) is a doctrine in Christian theology which is particularly associated with the Reformed tradition and is one of the five points of Calvinism. The doctrine states that Jesus Christ's substitutionary atonement on the cross is limited in scope to those who are predestined unto salvation and its primary benefits are not given to all of humanity but rather just believers." wikipedia

The canons of dordrecht
Article 8: The Saving Effectiveness of Christ's Death
"For it was the entirely free plan and very gracious will and intention of God the Father that the enlivening and saving effectiveness of his Son's costly death should work itself out in all his chosen ones, in order that he might grant justifying faith to them only and thereby lead them without fail to salvation. In other words, it was God's will that Christ through the blood of the cross (by which he confirmed the new covenant) should effectively redeem from every people, tribe, nation, and language all those and only those who were chosen from eternity to salvation and given to him by the Father; that he should grant them faith (which, like the Holy Spirit's other saving gifts, he acquired for them by his death); that he should cleanse them by his blood from all their sins, both original and actual, whether committed before or after their coming to faith; that he should faithfully preserve them to the very end; and that he should finally present them to himself, a glorious people, without spot or wrinkle.:"

Rejection of the Errors
Having set forth the orthodox teaching, the Synod rejects the errors of those
Who make use of the distinction between obtaining and applying in order to instill in the unwary and inexperienced the opinion that God, as far as he is concerned, wished to bestow equally upon all people the benefits which are gained by Christ's death; but that the distinction by which some rather than others come to share in the forgiveness of sins and eternal life depends on their own free choice (which applies itself to the grace offered indiscriminately) but does not depend on the unique gift of mercy which effectively works in them, so that they, rather than others, apply that grace to themselves."

One thing respectable about the design of this document is that it asserts both positive and the negatives of their doctrine and are very clear. In our days we either tell you the positive or the negative depending on our perspective. Now one must notice The intimate connections that this doctrine has with the doctrine of predestination. In fact it has been stated that the doctrine of limited atonement is not incompatible with arminian or free-will theology. Yet no major tradition supporting a synergist/free-will view has included this teaching.

The political nature of Five-point calvinism.
« Sin leading to death?
Temporary Faith is Real Faith »
The Synod of Dort and the Complexities of Being Reformed
January 31, 2008 by Steven Wedgeworth
"One of the first observations that needs to be made is that the theological dispute that lead up to the Synod of Dort occurred from inside the Reformed theological community. The Remonstrants would eventually argue for a clear departure from this tradition, but at the outset this was not the case. In other words, the debate was initially an intra-Reformed debate, not one between those inside and those outside of the tradition. Furthermore, there had been at least fourteen confessional documents composed prior to Dort, including the Tetrapolitan Confession, the 1st and 2nd Helvetic, the Scots Confession, the Belgic Confession, the 39 Articles, and the Heidelberg Catechism. The English and German delegates were as much concerned with maintaining their pre-existing standards as they were defending the specific writings of the Contra-Remonstrants. In fact the two parties in the Netherlands at that time are sometimes called the Arminians and the Gomarists, illustrating the regional particularity. King James I sent the British delegates to Dort with instructions to uphold the current faith of the Church of England.[4] David Pareus, writing from Heidelberg, also asked that no deviation from the Heidelberg catechism be made.[5] That there was an established and authoritative Reformed theological tradition prior to the Synod of Dort is obvious. Dort was not subscribed to by those outside of the Netherlands, though it was approved as sound doctrine by the various foreign delegates. This explains how it is that the German Reformed Church could continue with only the Heidelberg Catechism as a confessional document well into the 19th century."
So here essentially the nature of Calvinism is political in nature. Calvinist typically are strong believers in proselytizing other Christians into there system in a very militant fashion. Much like a political party they are concerned with bringing everyone over into their platform. The five points are a political platform. They are willing to sacrifice other doctrines if they can gather agreement to the base of the party. Eventually they would like to see agreement under the complete system. Though there are several different visions though as to what that vision is. Typically either one of the previous confessions or the westminster and 1687 London baptist confession.
The reformed tradition was not the center for a separation of church and state. Not only did the reformers wage actual war against the Roman Catholics. (not judging whether the entanglements were justified) But they also persecuted and slaughtered the anabaptist. The early reformers were very theocratic. They would rule their cities very strictly commonly referring back to the Old Testament but not always. While there are reformers who respect the separation of church and state such as many baptist and american presbyterians; The political nature of calvinism is one of top down authority. It is this empirical structure which forces a doctrine like limited atonement on the table.

Passages used to support limited atonement. (The following passages were used as proof text from www.monergism.com)
That God has the intention of redeeming a limited number
1chronicles 17:20-21
20O LORD, there is none like thee, neither is there any God beside thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears.
21And what one nation in the earth is like thy people Israel, whom God went to redeem to be his own people, to make thee a name of greatness and terribleness, by driving out nations from before thy people whom thou hast redeemed out of Egypt?
Here is a classic example of isogesis. Using the language of war and Egypt testifies to the the fact that this discussion is referring back to the nation of Israel. Salvation in the context eschatological justification is not even in the context of the passage.

Matthew 22:14
14For many are called, but few are chosen.

The actions of calling and chosen are usually attributed to other persons of the trinity. So the topic is not in fact directly over the subject of atonement. This isolated verse is not regarding atonement. The passage (22:1-14) is concerned with the kingdom of heaven. It uses the parable of a wedding feast. The king's servants a bid to come and they reject it and are destroyed. The king then has his remaining servants go and find anyone they can and bring them to the feast "and gathered as many as they found" It is afterwords that the king finds a man without a wedding garment and cast him out. For many(every) are called and allowed at the wedding feast of those who have been atoned for. But few(who have made the decision to dress for the wedding) are chosen. So this passage if anything speaks to unlimited atonement.

1peter 2:8-9
8And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.
9But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;
Here again we notice that the act of atonement is still not directly addressed. This passage is used to stress the fact that people are chosen or "appointed" to go to Hell. However if you go to the Dr.'s office, you have to "set up" an appointment. However those who are appointed disbelief have been previously established as disobedient. (vrs. 7) Meanwhile those who are the holy nation were previously not making this a conditional title.
"10Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy." So it is unnecessary to believe that God had not provided all the opportunity to be saved.

Ezekiel 36
Now this passage is a bit large so you can read it for yourselves. But the jist of it is that God is prophesying about the mountains of Israel. This is concerning the Jewish people and the land. Later in the passage there is talk of the nation being born again. But it is quite frankly not the Christian church because Israel is under the Law of God and the Church is not under the law covenant, also the church is a mix of Jews and gentiles. (romans 7:1-5, Galatians 3:28)

"Jesus has the intention of offering himself up(atoning) for the sins of just a certain people."

Isaiah 53:10-11
10Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
11He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
As will be shown this chapter declared that God laid upon Christ "the iniquity of us all". Since all have iniquity all would be universal. Why is it a contradiction for christ to accomplish salvation for those who accept his offer?

matthew 1:21
21And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
It never says that Jesus shall desire only to save "his people" without the offer given to the world. It says what most evangelicals who accept general atonement believe, that Jesus accomplished salvation in those who have faith in him. He doesn't accomplish salvation until people put faith in him.

John 6:35-40, 10:3-4,11 14,15,17
35And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
36But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not.
37All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
38For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
39And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
40And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
Here is yet another passage which teaches predestination and therefore by argument must "limit" the atonement. Yet again, not directly addressing the issue. Two points must first be made. Number Those who belong to the father might be faithful Jews who have convert to be disciples of christ. Number two assuming predestination of salvation is true indeed true. Is universal atonement truly contradictory? The act of election is transcendent or "before the foundations of the earth". Mean while the cross of Christ was historical, emanent "for such a time is this. If God is operating on two differing planes and has use of three much less two persons; then wouldn't it make sense that what appears in only one real as paradox is not contradictory at all?

3To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.
4And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
The sheep have a previously established relationship with the shepherd. I don't think sheep know the voice of the shepherd before they are acquainted.

11I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
Once again no contradiction with unlimited atonement.

14I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.
15As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.
The idea that God knows who he will save is taught by all evangelicals even the Wesleyans.
17Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.

Acts 20:28
28Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
It is good to note that reference her to "church of God" is referring to local congregations "over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers" and of course they have been purchased by christ. Still no contradiction.

Ephesians 5:25
25Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
Now in ancient culture if the Son is obedient He will accept who the Father gives him for his marriage. In this case the father picked the faithful bride which is not an individual but "whosoever believeth". Yet this is prior to the subject of this verse. as we know the eschatological bride is indeed a concept about the united church of the future. So it does not address whether the current offer is universal.

Joh 17:1-2; 6-12; 20-21; 24-26;
1These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:
2As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.
5-point calvinists are going to try to use this passage out of context. this is easy for the reader 2 thousand years later. But Christ prayer is before the cross. "he should give eternal life" is a future proposition.

3And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
4I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.
so here Christ is hoping his disciples "might know thee" that christ has finished his work "on earth" This is not the stage for eternity instead it is in the context of the time and his current roster of disciples.

5And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.
"and now" sticks to the context of the time before crucifixion.

6I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.
"I have manifested thy name unto the men" indicates jesus actual earthly ministry.

7Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.
8For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.
Here again he is referring to jesus actually discipling the disciples.

9I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.
So here the Calvinist will argue that christ is praying for the elect and he has limited the atonement. But no word on the atonement. Also the passage has clearly taught that christ was praying for his roster of disciples verses the faithless world that has not followed him.

10And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.
11And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.
"these are in the world" yet the apostles are now in heaven. this is the context christ is referring to his disciples and is not limiting his atonement.

12While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.
Is judas the one fellow who lost his salvation? Or is he the only faithless apostle.
The Bible teaches that their are many who follow christian religion and are not truly saved.(1john 2:18-19)

13And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.
14I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
"speak in the world" is this a reference to unlimited atonement? Regardless Christ is praying for his current disciples. this verse may extend to us but not referring to the subject of atonement.

15I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
16They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
"they are not of the world" current disciples.
17Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
18As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.
19And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.
20Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
Here christ is showing the context again of his current disciples and extending it to those of us who are believers.

21That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
22And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
23I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
They are not currently one yet look forward to it. This unity is referring to the future. Where we have the obvious implication of exclusive salvation. However Christ died at a time and place. His sacrifice was offered to us in a temporal way so that we would give an immanent response. 2Corinthians 6:2(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)

24Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.
25O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.
As christians 2000 years later we know more than this. But this was all the revelation the disciples at that time had.

26And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.
still no word on limited atonement.

Rom 8:34
34Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
no, word on limiting the atonement.

"Furthermore, the bible speaks of Christ's death as fully effective in securing justification ( Isa 53:11; Rom. 8:34), redemption and cleansing ( Eph 5:25-27; Tit 2:14), propitiation (that is, the complete satisfaction of the Father's wrath; 1 Jn 2:2; 4:10), and resurrection to new life ( 2Co 5:14-15)."
At this point one must ask if faith is a condition for anything in salvation. This leads us to a hyper calvinistic view called "eternal justification". This is the view that one is saved from all eternity. So evangelism is meaningless.
While Christ death accomplished all these things, salvation was conditioned to the believer. Those who are not believers are condemned to hell until they repent and place faith in Christ.

Passages in support of unlimited atonement.

Isaiah 50:2 (King James Version)
2Wherefore, when I came, was there no man? when I called, was there none to answer? Is my hand shortened at all, that it cannot redeem? or have I no power to deliver? behold, at my rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers a wilderness: their fish stinketh, because there is no water, and dieth for thirst.
Here we see a proclamation by God That he indeed has full ability to provide salvation which would put together a case for unlimited atonement.

Isaiah 53:6 (King James Version)
6All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Here we see what will be a continuous pattern. a link between sin nature and atonement. Here we see all who have gone astray linked with all who Jehovah has laid the iniquity of on Christ.

John 1:7 (King James Version)
7The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.
Here we see a purpose of universal atonement. This is in direct contradiction to dort. Calvinism teaches that it was only God's will to make salvation available to the elect. Yet here "all men" though him "might" believe. Here salvation is a conditional offer. Yet limited atonement is unconditional and not truly an offer either.

John 1:29 (King James Version)
29The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
Here we see a direct action described. The lamb of God "taketh away the sin of the world" this is very obvious spelling out unlimited atonement. Jesus forgiveness is being directly applied to the world.

John 3:16-17 (King James Version)
16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
Within the most famous gospel verse we see a pattern that conforms to a worldwide sacrifice with a conditional offer of Salvation. Yet the next verse spells this out in a bolder way. "God sent not his Son into the world" indicates that we are speaking the complete world system, not simply that Christ incarnated in the world of believers. He was seen by unbelievers as well. In fact Jesus grew up in Galilee where few had faith in him. So as the same word will have the same meaning in the same sentence.(supposing the scriptures are not contradictory) The "world" which might be saved must therefore be universal.

John 6:51 (King James Version)
51I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
Here we see again the conditional offer of salvation "if any man eat of this bread" The he states that He will give his flesh "for the life of the world"
Which is symbolically speaking of universal atonement.

Acts 17:30-31 (King James Version)
30And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
31Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.
Here we see a universal command of God for all men to repent. Also in context this passage is referring to humanity in general as it is to a gentile audience. but God show a desire for the world to change and the cross is an offering of assurance to the world. Yet what assurance would that be if it is only offered to a remnant?

Romans 3:22-24 (King James Version)
22Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
23For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
24Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
Here we see the Righteousness of God being offered "unto all" then it is imputed to those who believe, making a clear distinction. "For all have sinned", orthodox evangelical are in universal agreement that here that all means all. So why would it not carry the same meaning in the previous sentence when it says "unto all"?

Romans 5:18 (King James Version)
18Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
Here we see very obviously the doctrine of universal sinfulness being fused in with the atonement implying if not meaning universal atonement. One clever argument is that these are similar but not identical. all mankind is akin to all believers. however we see a verse that will shine the light on this claim.
Romans5:15 "But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many." Here salvation is referred to in particular, yet condemnation is referred to in particular as well. Making it an identical comparison.

Romans 11:32 (King James Version)
32For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.
When thinking of "all" we do not see the saints unified by unbelief. Therefore this verse implies unlimited atonement. This verse also counteracts romans 9:15 "I will have mercy upon whom I have mercy."

1 Corinthians 15:22 (King James Version)
22For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
Here we see a parallel comparison. As powerful as Adam's curse just as invasive is Christ blessing.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15, 19 (King James Version)
14For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:
15And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.
19To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
In reference to the death of Christ. All were did; death is universal, so then atonement ought to be as well. "he died for all" If "they which live" is particular then it is extracted from a universal atonement of christ death for all mankind. finally Christ was "reconciling the world to himself" this gives us authority for a ministry of reconciliation. are we to try to reconcile all to christ or just the elect?

Colossians 1:20 (King James Version)
20And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
"reconcile all things to himself" is as universal a statement as you will find. also "things in oearth bears this point as well.

1 Timothy 2:1-6 (King James Version)
1I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
2For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
3For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
4Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
5For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
6Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
Now the context is obvious. We should pray for "all men" many universally all mankind. Keeping that context in mind. So in verse 4 when it says "will have all men to be saved", we know that indeed it is all mankind. We know that there is "one mediator between God and men" not just some men but all. As Jesus Christ is "a ransom for all".

1 Timothy 4:10-11 (King James Version)
10For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.
11These things command and teach.
Jesus is the "Savior of all men" which is the wide angle compared to "especially those who believe" this implies that Jesus has a way of being recognized as savior to unbelievers. So He atoned for the sins of all mankind potentially and especially particularly saved believers. Notice verse 11< this implies that unlimited atonement is a bible doctrine which should be taught, which in the negative proves that limited atonement is an unbiblical doctrine which should not be taught.

1 Peter 3:18 (King James Version)
18For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
Who are the unjust? just believers? Perhaps Jesus died for the sins of all mankind.

2 Peter 3:9 (King James Version)
9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
God's will as previously shown is all to be saved and "repent" also God's Will is not for any to perish. If it were limited atonement then God would will that men perish.

1 John 2:2 (King James Version)
2And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
This has been a verse that is a thorn in the side of limited atonement advocates. They argue that John's letter is written to a particular audience and that John is saying not just his hearers but the whole world of Christians. 1John 1:4 declares
"4And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full." Is John only wanting some Christians to get this message or all Christians?
More important is the "whole world" really supposed to be the elect?
"1John 5:19And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness."
this does not describe those born again.

1 John 4:14 (King James Version)
14And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.
Here is an apostolic endorsement of the doctrine. Some still say "world of believers". But how does that mesh with 1John 2:15 where we are told to "love not the world"?

Is this universalism?

Universalism is the teaching that all people will eventually be saved. That no one will spend eternity in hell.( maybe the devil and his angels.)
If Jesus died for all then are not all saved? While some forms of reformed theology might conclude this given the strict nature of their beliefs in predestination. Most Christians well into the scholarly level, have no problem understanding a potentially universal atonement received by faith alone. In other words it is not necessarily a contradiction to believe in universal atonement alongside exclusive salvation.

How can anyone"s salvation be definite?

This is a problem posed often to fully fledged Arminians and wesleyan and pelagians. Because belief is a condition which can change. People will claim faith and then deny faith often in life. So perhaps if no one believed then God was incapable of saving anyone. However this doctrine only works in the case of those who believe that faith is a work which must be kept up in order attain salvation.

middle knowledge

Would jesus give mankind a chance? Many advocates of calvinism argue no because there is no such thing as chance. That God foreknows everything because he has designed it like a mechanistic clock. But is this necessarily true and does the Bible ever differ from this popular opinion?

The Bible speaks of God repenting in many situations. While we know that God does not actually himself change He does change what he is doing in interaction with others. (usually in the person of the Holy Spirit)
genesis 6:7And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them."
This changing not only brings up a case for free will but also sates that there is such a thing as possiblilities. because if God is alknowing then perhaps God knows there are alternatives and God knows then all the alternatives. Then God knows everything independently. God operates in a world of chance offering up people the chance of salvation. For more information see Randy Everest article on Middle knowledge before this article.

Can people make a morally positive decision?

In christian circles there is a poular christians song by a band called "caedmon's call"/ The lyric says it best "I'm so thankful that I'm incapable of doing any good on my own." calvinism argues that this is the universal truth. That man prior to regeneration is incapable of a sincerely positive decision.

Joshua 24:22 (King James Version)
22And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen you the LORD, to serve him. And they said, We are witnesses.
Here is a very interesting a definitive proof that people are capable of a positive decision. This is not a time where God is rewarding His people for Choosing Him. Instead it is an indictment upon them because they are not good by nature so they will not live up to their decision of obedience. The law is Holy,{romans 7:12} So they were making a holy choice to Follow Jehovah. Only they would not stay holy due to their depravity. So while human depravity cause us to be inclined towards sin and away from God it does not deterministicly bar us from any good choice.

Mark 5:34 (King James Version)
34And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.
Here jesus claims the woman's faith has healed her. it is christ faith in the since that he was the object of it. However Christ makes the obvious claim that the faith was hers. Believers need the gospel to produce faith. Romans 10:17 "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."
Once empowered by the gospel a person has the capability of a positive decision.
6But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:)
7Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)
8But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
9That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
10For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
God uses his gospel to overcome our depravity to be saved.
1:16For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

Waste of blood?
1 Peter 4:6"For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit."

Several Calvinists have asked me. "why would jesus waste his blood for nothing?" If he does not save them then why would jesus die on the cross for them?

While this is a clever argument it makes some distorted assumptions. God has always valued mankind and teaches us to do so.
James 3:8-9
8But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
9Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.
God loves mankind because mankind is in his image.
Psalm 8:4-8 (King James Version)
4What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
5For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.
6Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:
7All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field;
8The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.

More importantly God is love
1 John 4:7-9
7Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
8He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
9In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.

I have become very passionate about this doctrine. Because the only thing that has given me life is the love of God. His love in me through his son and the ability to love others as a result of this. God wants us to love our neighbor. but we could never be as loving as God. I know there are many devout christians who believe in this doctrine, I do not want believers to be seduced by the consistency of worldly wisdom and be robbed of the love of God.

In Christ,