The adaptedness of Christ’s death to serve as a ground for universal gospel invitations, constitutes it in the view of some persons a universal redemption. But no one can with propriety be said to be redeemed, who does not obtain deliverance, and who never will obtain it. Other persons who maintain the doctrine of particular redemption, distinguish between redemption and atonement, and because of the adaptedness referred to, consider the death of Christ an atonement for the sins of all men; or as an atonement for sin in the abstract. In Rom. v.11, the only place in the New Testament where the word atonement occurs, the Greek word for which it stands, is the same that is rendered reconciling–reconciliation, in other places.1 The reconciliation is not between God and sin in the abstract, for such a reconciliation is impossible. It is a reconciliation of persons; and such a reconciliation as secures eternal salvation. “If, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God, by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.”2 In Paul’s view, all those for whom Christ’s death made reconciliation or atonement, will certainly be saved; and therefore atonement cannot be universal, unless salvation be universal. It is possible to use the word atonement in such a sense, as to render the question respecting the extent of the atonement one of mere definition: but it is best to use the words of Scripture in the Scripture sense.

J.L. Dagg, Manual of Theology and Church Order, (Harrisonburg, VA: Gano Books, 1982), 326. [Footnote values original; underlining mine.]

[Notes: 1) This work was first published in 1858. 2) While Dagg finally rejects this distinction as being valid, what is important here is that he acknowledges it as being a position tabled by some advocates of particular redemption. 3) Dagg is probably not alluding to William G.T. Shedd (given that Shedd’s Dogmatics were not yet published at this time), but to some earlier proponent of the distinction.]

[Credit to Tony for the find.


1Rom. xi. 15; 2 Cor. v. 18, 19.

2Rom. v. 10.

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