THE EXTENT OF THE ATONEMENT
A PAPER SUBMITTED TO
DR. ROBERT WETMORE
IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR
SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY II
JACOB A. KESLING
BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA
AUGUST 10, 2009
Table of Contents
Introduction: Why this Discussion is Important
Biblical Foundation for Limited Atonement
Other Theological Considerations for Limited Atonement
Biblical Foundation for Unlimited Atonement
Other Theological Considerations for Unlimited Atonement
THE EXTENT OF THE ATONEMENT
This essay will briefly explore two views to the extent of the atonement. In other words, this essay will look at two views of who is to benefit from the atonement? Most Calvinists believe that Christ’s death was to make possible the salvation only of the elect also known as limited atonement or particular atonement. Armenians, on the other hand, believe that Christ’s atoning death was meant for all people but only becomes effective when accepted by the individual, which is known as unlimited atonement. The question at hand is “For whom did Christ die?” or “For whom was Christ death intended for?” Calvinist and Armenians are not arguing if Christ’s death had the potential to cover the sins of all people, but did He die only for those he had chosen before the foundations of the world. The purpose of explaining these two views is to get a better Biblical understanding so that individuals can make a decision based on Biblical interpretation and not what they feel would be fair for God to do.
Introduction: Why This Discussion is Important
It seems as though the days of sound theological preaching is fading into a world of consumerism with messages that entertain; exegetical preaching is constantly battling in a world that seems to embrace postmodernism. It seems like Christians today know much less about theology and the Bible than those in the previous generation. One could doubt if the average person sitting in the pew could even explain what the word atonement means. This is quite a problem. It is our theological beliefs that form a lens by which we read and understand the Bible. Understanding the atonement will help individuals form a
good theological stance that will affect how we read and understand the Bible and how we view God. Understanding the extent of the atonement will ultimately shift many other theological issues that need understood.
The atonement is the foundation of other major doctrines such as ecclesiology and eschatology. Since theological doctrines seem to be intertwined then a position taken on any specific doctrine will affect or contribute to the construction of the others. “Here the doctrines of God, humanity, sin, and the person of Christ come together to define the human need and the provision that had to be made for that need.”1 It is important to get a biblical and theological understanding of the atonement and its extent for it will affect their interpretations of other theological doctrines.
The Bible says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”2 It is important, therefore, to understand what God has to say about the atoning work of Jesus. Individuals cannot simply ignore Scripture that they do not understand. God has revealed Himself to us through His word for a purpose. So Christians are called to “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”3 The atonement of Jesus was meant for either the elect or for the world. This paper will argue both views Biblically so that individuals can make a sound Biblical decision on the...
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