I recently offered some proposals on some “less intense” (yet still Reformed) articulations of Calvinism (see above). Today, we embark on the most controversial of the “points” of Calvinism: Limited Atonement.
This is the most difficult of Calvinism’s points, but it’s also its most logical. The least charitable way to summarize it is thusly: Jesus only died for Christians and not others. The more charitable way: No drop of Jesus’ blood was shed in vain; God accomplishes what he sets out to do, and Jesus’ death is effectual to save all whom it is intended to save.
Therefore, the belief is that Jesus’ atoning work on the Cross was “limited” to cover only the sins of people that would become Christians. So how do we move forward? Because after all, there seems to be only two options here concerning Jesus’ work on the Cross: Limited or Unlimited? Particular or Universal? “all who will” or “all who may“?
How can we approach this in a more winsome and erudite way while still calling ourselves Calvinists? Or more importantly, how can we balance God’s initiating power and sovereignty with his universal love and longing that all may be saved?
First, Atonement is NOT Salvation
This is really important. In my last post, I pointed out that God’s Election is more about our life here-and-now, and less about our future eternal destiny. The same can be said of Atonement.