We come to the third petal on Calvin’s TULIP which is Limited Atonement. This is perhaps the most distasteful doctrine even to Calvinist’s, but since they are forced to defend an arbitrary and unknowable god, this really doesn’t come as a surprise. The primary problem a Calvinist has with atonement is he can’t distinguish between the atonement and the application of the atonement. I’ll explain, but this is simply another domino falling or collateral damage to more verses in the Bible because of the Calvinist’s first false idea of God and man.
Definition of Limited Atonement
- Because Calvin’s god arbitrarily picked who is saved and who is going to Hell before the foundation of the world (and before His own law condemned them), there is not really a need for Jesus Christ to die for people who will never be redeemed anyway.
- The Calvinist idea is that Christ only made a Limited Atonement for the “elect” because he did not want anyone else to be saved.
- The disgusting sound of Limited Atonement has forced some Calvinists to destigmatize the word by calling it Particular Atonement or Definite Atonement.
- A Calvinist is also afraid of saying that Jesus Christ’s death was only powerful enough to apply to some. However, at this point he has to talk out of both sides of his mouth.
Contradictions of Limited Atonement
- Self contradiction. The Calvinist says atonement could save all, but God limited the atonement to only the “elect” because He didn’t want anyone else to be saved. If God limited the atonement, then it was never effective for everyone.
- Calvinists cannot make a distinction between the atonement itself and the application of the atonement.
- A Calvinist is afraid of universalism, or saying that if Jesus died for the whole world, then the whole world is saved. Which we agree that universalism is nonsense, but the fact that Jesus died once and for all for all sins doesn’t mean everyone accepts that payment for their sin. See 2 Peter 2:1. (They make the atonement and the application of the atonement the same thing.)
- Another argument the Calvinist makes is double jeopardy. If Christ died for all, then none are guilty. (Again making the atonement and its application the same thing.)
- Scriptural contradiction
- If the atonement and its application are one and the same thing, then none of the “elect” are dead in trespasses and sins and none are by nature the children of wrath in Ephesians 2:1 and 3.
- The passover settles the Calvinist’s argument that the death of the Lamb and the application are the same thing. In Exodus 12:6-7, 21-22, it is not the death of the Lamb that provides universal salvation, it is the specific application of the blood to the doorpost. The sacrifice and the application are not the same thing.
- Romans 5:11-12, 18 is the only time in the New Testament the word atonement shows up; just once.
- Paul clearly explains the scope of atoning work just as the scope of sin’s work versus the individual application of the atonement and the individual application of sin (5:12). And in 5:19 he explains the whole thing. And the future tense is clear that the application of that atonement will only be to those who receive it. (Once again, the atonement and the application of the atonement are never the same thing.)
- John 1:29, 3:14-16. Calvinist says “world” means “elect”. Look at John 3:19 for the explanation of the world. But according to a Calvinist, the “elect” have never been in danger
- To apply the atonement to your account, you have to accept the payment for your sin.
- Exodus 29:19-21, 31-34.
- Calvinists take Mark 14:24 and ignore how the atonement is applied to a soul.
- Very clear and defining verses that show atonement is available to all, but only applied to those who believe: John 4:42, 1 Timothy 2:6, 4:10, 2 Peter 3:9, 1 John 2:2-3, Revelation 22:17