"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." - Jerome

Friday, March 07, 2008

Actual, not Potential, Atonement

Jay Bennett has a great post quoting J.I. Packer evaluating the wide-spread idea among Evangelicals that Christ died equally for everyone, creating a potential, but not actual salvation for His people. Here's my favorite part:

"The true evangelical evaluation of the claim that Christ died for every man, even those who perish, comes through at point after point in Owen’s book. So far from magnifying the love and grace of God, this claim dishonors both it and him, for it reduces God’s love to an impotent wish and turns the whole economy of ‘saving’ grace, so-called (‘saving’ is really a misnomer on this view), into a monumental divine failure. Also, so far from magnifying the merit and worth of Christ’s death, it cheapens it, for it makes Christ die in vain. Lastly, so far from affording faith additional encouragement, it destroys the scriptural ground of assurance altogether, for it denies that the knowledge that Christ died for me (or did or does anything else for me) is a sufficient ground for inferring my eternal salvation; my salvation, on this view, depends not on what Christ did for me, but on what I subsequently do for myself."


Aaron said...

Good post. I am very open to this point of view and feel more at home with it then many other things I hear out there. At the same time I often think that Limited Atonement is more clever then it is Biblical. I am no expert but there does not seem to be a lot of real clear teaching on how the atonement works in the Bible. Reformed Theology tends to be very logical, often more logical then the Bible. I know it is terrible for me to bring up evangelical public enemy number one. While I do not want to be wedded to many of his views Zane Hodges is a great one for making us think at things from another angle. Here is an interesting case for “universal propitiation”.
As for what I think? I don’t know. You might both be right.

Jared Nelson said...

Question due to the article by Hodges you posted:

Do you believe you need knowledge of the work of Christ for salvation?

Aaron said...

Belief is necessary of course; I have read the book of John a couple of times and I think he brings it up once or twice. May I also say that your next point is going to be extremely valid, logical and well put!

In fact I will now put on my other hat and criticize Zane which I also enjoy doing. (I really love the guy) Here is a nice way of saying it. His theology is often more Christ centered then Cross centered. (Although this piece does not suffer that to much) Not necessarily a complement. He would say belief in Christ as the savior is enough. He is not so much in talking about coming to the cross. I actually like limited atonement and enjoy hearing people talk about it. I just think the case can only go so far Biblically. There is a fair amount of mystery to embrace, and I see it as interesting speculation. Agree also that everyone limits it in someway. Now I have said all, and perhaps actually more then, I am qualified to say. So anyway, now you may fire away.

Jared Nelson said...

I don't necessarily have a point I am getting at. I am methodically trying to develop areas of my theological understanding I have previously let lay dormant. One of those areas is the content and nature of "saving faith." But Hodges did things in that article that seem novel:

1) takes a detour to tell people that Romans 3:24-25 is not telling them they need to have faith in Christ's blood, which is a stand in for Paul for the work of Christ

2) He separates propitiation from the mercy seat. I don't get that. I don't think he did, or can, make a claim that the two are different. Isn't the mercy seat were propitiation occurs, when Christ's blood is sprinkled on it? I supposed I should do a study on the mercy seat, especially since Johnny Cash has a song called "mercy seat" and it would probably make more sense if I had a better understanding of it...

Aaron said...

Me too brother. That is what is both fun and sometimes dangerous about Hodges. He is so clever. Often to clever. Limited Mercy seat?! What?! Who the hell has ever thought of that? I am not saying this one is dangerous per say. I don’t really know. I ran it by our Pastor and he said he found no fault with it. But he is not big on Limited Atonement either so there you go.

White Badger said...

"And the mercy seat is smoking
And I think my head is melting
And in a way that's helpin'
to be done with all this twistin' of the truth
An eye for an eye
And a tooth for a tooth
And any way I told the truth
But I'm afraid I told a lie."