Archive for the ‘Short Essays, Notes, and Comments’ Category

16
Feb

1 John 2:2 and the Argument for Limited Atonement

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.
But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
1 John 2: 1-2

The aim of this essay is to draw out the implicit forms of the argument which are normally assumed in arguments for limited satisfaction based on 1 John 2:2. My goal is to make these implicit arguments or assumptions explicit.1 As with many of the arguments for limited satisfaction, the basic form runs along the lines of a modus tollens axis.2 A premise is alleged, and then a modus tollens argument is enlisted. More formally the argument looks something like this: If Christ died for a person, that person cannot fail be saved.3 This is then simply generalized or converted into a universal statement:

If Christ died for the whole world, then the whole world will necessarily be saved4
It is not the case that the whole world is saved
Therefore, it is not the case that Christ died for the whole world

I argue that this sort of argument lies at the back of the arguments for limited satisfaction based on 1 John 2:2.

The overarching goal of this essay is to remove the alleged logical impediments enlisted to restrict or limit the meaning of “whole world” in 1 John 2:2.

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10
Feb

Revisiting John 17 and Jesus’ Prayer for the World

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism

Revisiting John 17 and Jesus’ Prayer for the World

Regarding Jesus’ prayer in John 17, these facts are always alleged, assumed, and asserted, even though they are never supported by any confirming evidence:

1. That this is a specific and effectual high priestly prayer on the part of Jesus.
2. That the “world” of 17: 9 respects the world of the reprobate.
3. That those “given” in verse 9 represent the totality of the elect.
4. That the extent of the high priestly intercession delimits the scope of the satisfaction.
5. That the two parallel clauses in verses 21 and 23 are systemically overlooked or misread.

This short essay will not attempt to answer 1-4, specifically, but focus on 5: That the two parallel clauses in verses 21 and 23 are systemically overlooked or misread.

The verses read:

17:21: “that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe [πιστευω] that You sent Me

17: 23 I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know [γινωσκω] that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.

Or in short:

21 so that the world may believe [πιστευω] that You sent Me.

23 so that the world may know [γινωσκω] that You sent Me.

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In his book, The Plan of Salvation, Warfield lays out the following:

We will ask, however, an American divine to explain to us the sacerdotal system as it has come to be taught in the Protestant Episcopal Churches.60 "Man," we read in Dr. A. G. Mortimer’s "Catholic Faith and Practice," "having fallen before God’s loving purpose could be fulfilled, he must be redeemed, bought back from his bondage, delivered from his sin, reunited once more to God, so that the Divine Life might flow again in his weakened nature" (p. 65). "By his life and death Christ made satisfaction for the sins of all men, that is, sufficient for all mankind, for through the Atonement sufficient grace is given to every soul for its salvation; but grace, though sufficient, if neglected, becomes of no avail" (p. 82).[footnote 61] The Incarnation and the Atonement affected humanity as a race only [footnote 62]. Some means, therefore, was needed to transmit the priceless gifts which flowed from them to the individuals of which the race was comprised, not only at the time when our Lord was on earth, but to the end of the world. For this need, therefore, our Lord founded the Church" (p. 84).1

The above is not all that interesting to me, what is interesting is Warfield’s footnote 62 on page, 109, which reads:

Query: Is there any such thing as the "race" apart from the individuals which constitute the race? How could the Incarnation and Atonement affect the "race" and leave the individuals which constitute the race untouched?

Warfield was part of the empiricist-common sense realist school or tradition of Princeton. For him, a universal so defined as a mere abstraction is useless as it contains no meaningful content. What is also interesting is that the sentiment of Warfield’s opponent is the very sort of sentiment a lot of modern 5-Point calvinists invoke when they transmute the meaning of John’s “kosmos” (John 3:16 and 1 John 2:2) into something like species or humanity or some cognate.2

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No Atonement for the House of Eli (1 Sam 3:14)

Short Notes

Definition

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.

The Argument

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.

Responses

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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Hypercalvinism arose out of Protestant Scholastic categories and exegetical conclusions. Stated another way, hypercalvinism could not have arisen directly out of the pre-Protestant Scholastic categories or theologies of such men as Bullinger, Calvin, Zwingli, or Luther.

The very categories and exegetical turns developed in 17th century Protestant Scholastics, even from the early half of that century, were the building blocks for later Husseyite and Gillite hypercalvinism. And as much as Gill grounded his theology in the categories of Owen, others, such as Toplady in the 18th century, based many of their exegetical conclusions in Gill’s exegesis. Specifically, I argue that the exegetical categories which underlie Gill’s exegesis are to be sourced and were derived from theologians such as John Owen himself.

Below is a specimen example of my argument. Included are some excerpts John Gill, the “head of hypercalvinism” as Spurgeon described him. These comments will demonstrate how Gill “explains” the various Ezekiel passages where God declares that he wills not the death of the sinner. After this, Owen is quoted for the purpose of comparison.

John Gill:

Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God; and not that he should return from his ways and live? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dies; wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye;" (Ezekiel 18:13.) all which cannot be said of an eternal death; dying in his iniquity, is the same with dying for his iniquity, as it is rendered in verse 26, and designs some severe temporal calamity or affliction; which is often in Scripture called a death, Exodus 10:17, 2 Corinthians 1:10, and 2 Corinthians 11:23; such as captivity, in which the Jews then were, of which they were complaining, what was owing to their sins, and from which they were capable of being recovered. “This answer, it is said, contradicts the express words of the prophet about twenty times;” though not one single instance of it is given. Gill, Cause of God and Truth, Eze 18:24.1

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