The Extent of the Atonement

John Owen’s Arguments Are Not Irrefutable

The Oxford divine relies too much on a “logic of inevitability.” The extent of the atonement has a been a topic of study for me for years. On and off I have read various defenses of the definite atonement position, as well as those for unlimited atonement. While the 2013 publication of From Heaven He Came and Sought Her may challenge this, for a very long time many people pointed to John Owen’s Death of…

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The Extent of the Atonement

Can “World” mean “Elect” In John’s Theology?

Examining the Context of John 3:16 Of the several places in Scripture where Jesus is said to die for the sins of the world, John’s writings offer the most occurrences. Those who defend definite atonement have a challenge in explaining the meaning of this as something other than all sinners. The claim of the definite atonement position is that Jesus did not die for the sins of all, but only for those who will ultimately…

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The Extent of the Atonement

Is a “Purchase of Faith” Taught in the New Testament?

Is faith our response to the gospel, or a substance given?  A hallmark of definite atonement is the view that what God requires of people to be saved, he has provided to them. That is, that the faith which brings us into a right relationship with God has been purchased for us at Calvary. The atonement includes the purchase of faith, but only for the elect. How sure is the exegetical ground for this teaching?…

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The Extent of the Atonement

Atonement Views and Trinitarian Disharmony

Among the arguments made in favor of definite atonement is that it represents a harmony among the persons of the Trinity. Unlimited atonement, on the other hand, undermines and indeed, destroys this harmony because it separates extent from application; that is, the collection of those for whom extent exists differs from those to whom the atonement is applied. The editors of From Heaven He Came and Sought Her make this argument.  photo by Ali Arif…

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The Extent of the Atonement

The Double Payment Argument and Definite Atonement

One of the more popular arguments for definite atonement—that Christ died only for the sins of those who will be saved, and not for mankind as a whole—is the double payment argument. John Owen, in his book The Death of Death in the Death of Christ makes this argument. In that Owen’s work is commonly held to be an unanswerable defense of definite atonement, we may regard his position as emblematic. “If the full debt…

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The Extent of the Atonement

The Atonement and the “Well-Meant” Gospel Offer

It isn’t uncommon in discussions on the atonement to find those who hold to definite atonement appeal to an internal consistency of Scripture; to consider the logical implications of the evidence. This appeal comes with a kind of tacit acknowledgment that many verses of Scripture that speak of atonement do, on the face of it, seem to support an unlimited atonement. The editors of From Heaven He Came and Sought Her, state it this way.…

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The Extent of the Atonement

Discussing the Atonement As Co-Heirs of Life

In discussions of the atonement, it is far too easy to lapse into lines of reasoning that have an appeal to emotion, or to what seems logical, but for which Scriptural warrant may be lacking. Some of this can be seen even in the terms used through the centuries. In this debate, there has been an evolution of terms: “limited atonement”, “particular redemption” and “definite atonement.” At various points in history throughout the discussions of…

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The Extent of the Atonement

Does the Passover Demonstrate Definite Atonement?

At various point through the years, I have investigated the idea of “definite atonement.” As I’m now reading through From Heaven He Came and Sought Her: Definite Atonement in Historical, Biblical, Theological, and Pastoral Perspective a few reactions have come to mind. I recognize the topic is broad, and takes in many different aspects of theology, so I don’t want to diminish the complexity of it by coming to some summary conclusions in this post.…

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