Sunday, November 2, 2008

Carson on the problem of 'Limited Atonement'

A big thanks to Dave Miers for encouraging me to read Carson on this, as I've said before my difficulties in grappling with Limited Atonement. Carson says the problem lies in the language;

The label 'limited atonement' is singularly unfortunate for two reasons. First, it is a defensive, restrictive expression: here is atonement, and then someone wants to limit it. The notion of limiting something as glorious as the atonement is intrinsically offensive. Second, even when inspected more coolly, 'limited atonement' is objectively misleading. Every view of the atonement 'limits' it in some way, save for the view of the unqualified universalist. For example, the Arminian limits the atonement by regarding it as merely potential for everyone; the Calvinist regards the atonement as definite and effective, but limits this effectiveness to the elect.
Don Carson, The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God, pg 84


I think Carson has correctly diagnosed why I feel uncomfortable with being '5 point Calvinist'. There is something about God not dying for the sins of the whole world that sounds wrong. Carson argues to distinguish instead general atonement and definite atonement over limited and unlimited atonement. He asserts that under the truth of election, one must conclude that when God sent his Son to the cross, the effect would be different to the elect than to all others. This is Definite Atonement.

I think I can agree with that

4 comments:

Dave Miers said...

good quote and good chapter.

michael jensen said...

This is one of the best things I ever read from Carson (and that's saying something). He is a BIBLICAL theologian, so he isn't happy with the neatly packaged answers of (some) systematicians.

Dannii said...

I have problems with limited atonement because if Christ has not died for and redeemed humanity as a whole, he does not have the right to inherit the earth and rule over it. God gave Adam rule over the earth, and Adam gave it to Satan. Satan was called the Prince of the Earth before Calvary, but never after. For Christ to now rule over the earth he must redeem it back, and he has done just that. When he died, humanity died legally with him. And without a people to rule over, Satan has no power.

But this is in a corporate sense. Even if we're not under Satan's power we must still each repent of our rebellion against God.

geoffc said...

I have problems with limited atonement because if Christ has not died for and redeemed humanity as a whole, he does not have the right to inherit the earth and rule over it.

But clearly not all of humanity is redeemed, so how does that work? Have all people have died with Christ?