Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Lutheran and Calvinist Dialog about the Atonement

11 comments:

Nick said...

That was pretty funny, especially the robotic and monotone in which the "Gospel" was being presented.

I'm glad people recognize the 'problem' here, which (yes, I'm repeating myself) are simply two sides of the same counterfeit coin. The coin is false because it represents Penal Substitution which is false and which leads Calvinists and Lutherans to make logical yet ultimately contradictory conclusions.

Side 1 of coin: Christ received the death penalty for sin X yet a apostate Christian can still receive the death penalty for sin X.

Side 2 of coin: Christ already received God's wrath due to the sin of the elect, yet the elect are still under God's wrath until conversion.

Conclusion: The coin is counterfeit.

Jordan Cooper said...

Nick, I would appreciate it if you would only respond if you have something to say related directly to my post. I am here dealing with a discussion of the atonement amongst Reformed and Lutheran Christians, not whether or not substitutionary atonement is true. If I have a post on that subject, then I would welcome your comments.

Dogmatix said...

Is what you are trying to say is that Christ has died for everyone but only the ones given faith access that atonement? Could you try to clarify your position as much as you can? It's not clicking with me.

Jordan Cooper said...

objective justification- Christ died for the sins of the whole world. The verdict "not guilty" hangs over all men.

subjective justification- Though the objective work is truly offered to all, one must have faith to receive the benefits of this objective act. Therefore, only those men who have the gift of faith receive the benefits of this objective work.

Matthew Catalano said...

I like the video, Jordan. However, to play devil's advocate on how Calvinists would view it, I think there is a flaw in the argument.

While it is true that the elect are under God's wrath and condemnation prior to regeneration, because of irresistible grace, that elect person will infallibly be regenerated, profess faith, and be preserved to salvation. The Calvinist would thus counter that no one for whom Christ died is in hell suffering for the sins that Christ paid for.

Whereas in Lutheranism, though the elect will go to heaven, Christ also died for the non-elect, and they are still being punished in hell for their sins.

Jordan Cooper said...

Matthew, I disagree.
Whether or not one actually goes to hell is irrelevant. Either way, one has to admit that one is still guilty of his own sin and under God's wrath, even if Christ has died for him, unless he appropriates that by faith.
Thus why is there any problem in seeing the situation as the non-elect the same as that of the elect prior to faith? Christ died for them, they simply never had faith, thus never received those benefits.

Jonathan said...

The Objective vs Subjective Justification sounds very much like the sufficient for all but effectual for the elect argument. What do you think?

Jordan Cooper said...

No I don't see them as being ideas which are that similar. The sufficient for all, efficient for some formula says that the atonement was powerful enough to have been given for every single person, however it wasn't. The objective/subjective distinction says that it indeed was given for all but those benefits must be received by the individual through faith. They are really answering two different questions.

Matthew Catalano said...

That's true, Jordan and I agree with the Lutheran view (well, because I'm Lutheran).

My point here, though, is that the Calvinist argument usually does not fall on the temporal side, but rather the eternal side. When I've debated this with Calvinists, they have always asserted, "How can God hold a man responsible at the judgment for their sins if Christ already paid for them." If you read John Owen, for example, his famous statement is:

God imposed His wrath due unto, and the Son underwent the pains of hell for, either:

All the sins of all men.
All the sins of some men, or
Some sins of all men.

In which case it may be said:

If the last, some sins of all men, then have all men some sins to answer for, and so shall no man be saved.
If the second, that is it which we affirm, that Christ in their stead and room suffered for all the sins of all the elect in the world.
But if the first be true, why are not all men free from the punishment due unto their sins?

You answer, "Because of their unbelief."

I ask, "Is this unbelief a sin, or is it not? If it is, then Christ suffered the punishment due unto it, or He did not. If He did, why must that hinder them more than their other sins for which He died? If He did not, He did not die for all their sins!"

Matthew said...

We are often told that we limit the atonement of Christ, because we say that Christ has not made satisfaction for all men, or all men would be saved. Now, our reply to this is that, on the other hand, our opponents limit it, we do not. The Arminians say, Christ died for all men. Ask them what they mean by it. Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of all men? They say, "No, certainly not." We ask them the next question-Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of any man in particular? They say, "No." They are obliged to admit this if they are consistent. They say, "No; Christ has died so that any man may be saved if"-and then follow certain conditions of salvation. We say then, we will just go back to the old statement-Christ did not die so as beyond a doubt to secure the salvation of anybody, did He? You must say "No;" you are obliged to say so, for you believe that even after a man has been pardoned, he may yet fall from grace and perish. Now, who is it that limits the death of Christ? Why you... We say Christ so died that He infallibly secured the salvation of a multitude that no man can number, who through Christ's death not only may be saved, but are saved, must be saved, and cannot by any possibility run the hazard of being anything but saved. You are welcome to your atonement; you may keep it. We will never renounce ours for the sake of it. (Charles Spurgeon, Sermon 181, New Park Street Pulpit, IV, p. 135)

markmcculley said...

jc: why is there any problem in seeing the situation as the non-elect the same as that of the elect prior to faith? Christ died for them, they simply never had faith, thus never received those benefits.

mark: Christ did not die to forgive any elect person of the sin of final unbelief of the gospel. Christ died to give every elect person faith in the gospel and conversion. Christ's death really propitiates. And also Christ's death really results in conversion. Faith is given to the elect on behalf of Christ, because of what Christ did at the cross.

Of course Christians do disbelieve even in their faith, and Christ died for all the sins of all Christians including all those after they are converted. But no elect person dies unconverted, because Christ died to give them the new birth and the faith in the gospel which follows.

I agree with you that we need to take into account the time between Christ’s work and the application and imputation of that work.

Both the elect and the non-elect are born guilty, in the same position, even though Jesus already died on the cross. The difference is that Christ has already died for some sinners, and has already not died for other sinners. There is not some "general fund" of righteousness out there (enough for everybody). God will impute to the elect what Christ has earned only for the elect.

Christ died to obtain not only the redemption but also the application of the redemption. Christ did not need to die for final disbelief by the elect because Christ died instead that the elect will not finally disbelieve.

Romans 5: 17 speaks of “those who receive the free gift of righteousness” and how they reign in life through the one man Christ Jesus. This receiving is not the
sinner believing. It is not an “exercise of faith”. The elect “receive” the righteousness by God’s imputation.