No Atonement for the House of Eli (1 Sam 3:14)
By limited atonement and limited satisfaction, I mean the doctrine that Christ was only punished for the sins of the elect. That is, Christ only sustained a penal relationship with them, and them alone.
In brief, it is argued that because it is stated that there was no atonement for the House of Eli, this entails or suggests a limited satisfaction with regard to the work of Christ. That is, that the satisfactory work of Christ is limited to the elect alone, to the exclusion of the non-elect. The suggestion is something like: If the House of Eli can be excluded from atonement in the Old Testament, then the non-elect can be excluded from the Christ’s satisfaction in the New Testament.
1) The context is because of their sin, the house of Eli was precluded from obtaining atonements (probably forgiveness) for their sins. At one time there were atonements or forgiveness available to them for their sins, then on account of their sins, at a later time, there was not as access to atonement as it was denied or withdrawn from them.
2) For the argument for “limited atonement” to work, one would have to show that at no point was there access for the house of Eli to atonements for sin. This would then indicate that they were denied access to atonements a priorily, even before they were born, etc. But having access to atonement removed, is not the same as never having an atonement made available to them in the first place.
3) Even if we grant that a priorily, there was no atonement (i.e., atonements) for the House of Eli, that would not prove “limited atonement,” properly speaking. It would only prove that a certain segment of the class “non-elect” were not died-for. It would not prove that all the class, non-elect, were not died-for. Here I am simply inverting Owen’s logic, when he concedes that even if a given passage in Eze 18 proves that God wished the salvation of the House of Israel, one could not universalize the text to claim that God wished the salvation of all men, or specifically of all non-elect.
4) Relative to 3), the OT sacrifices were a type to Christ’s future sacrifice, and even though they were limited to the Israel of God, Christ’s sacrifice, on the other hand, is for the world (Jn 1:29, John 3:14-17, 1 Jn 2:2). Therefore, any limitation in the type does not necessarily entail to a corresponding limitation in the anti-type. We have plenty of examples of this, the flood, the Ark, the Bronze Serpent, and so forth. With regard to Christ, the anti-type is expansive and global.
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