Ambassador of Reconciliation
1/19/16 at 08:46 AM 45 Comments

Conversation about the Atonement: Is It Limited or Unlimited? Part 8

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Our conversation about the extent of the atonement is now winding down. In an effort to make sure we understand each other, I asked Joe to write a paragraph or two explaining his understanding of my view of the extent of the atonement. I have done the same with his view. Then we will critique our own statements, correct any misunderstandings in each other’s perceptions, and make some final comments on each other’s statements.

Joe’s Understanding of Diane’s View of Unlimited Atonement
My understanding of Diane’s view of atonement is for the entirety of creation to be reconciled to God. I understand that Diane believes in a Universal redemption of all men, and that Jesus died for and cancelled the sin debt for everyone, so that eventually everyone would come to faith and repentance. Diane believes if a person doesn’t come to faith in this world, they will be punished, but it isn’t an eternal punishment, but an age long punishment. That Jesus didn’t only die for the sins of His elect, but everyone who ever lived. She believes that eventually all men will come to faith and repentance.

I also believe that Diane knows that people are responsible for their sin, and that man in sin deserves a penalty for their rebellion, but the ultimate goal is to bring them to faith and repentance so they will be reconciled.

From scripture Diane pulls points as: Reconciling all things 1 Col-15:19, when the scripture says all it means all as in Matt 3:5-6, and that all will be made alive in Christ 1 Cor 15:22-23.

Diane’s Understanding of Joe’s View of Limited Atonement
The most fundamental, non-negotiable fact about God is that He is sovereign. He can and will do all that He purposes to do. He sovereignly chose to bring the entire creation into existence out of nothing. He is under no obligation to those creatures and no one deserves His favor, but He graciously purposed to call out a people for Himself. For reasons known to Him alone, He chose His own, the “elect,” to be the recipients of His salvation. He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die as the atoning sacrifice for their sins.

Human beings are responsible for their own sin, and in God’s perfect justice they are required to pay the penalty for their rebellion against Him. They cannot save themselves, but in His mercy, God sent His Son to pay the penalty. Saving even one is an act of grace; since He is so gracious, God saves many. It is clear that not all belong to Christ: He came to call His own sheep (Jn. 10); He did not pray for the world, but for those specific ones God had given Him (Jn. 17); God prepared “vessels of mercy” to receive the riches of His glory, while the “vessels of wrath” are prepared for destruction (Rom. 9). If God had intended to save all, it definitely would have happened, since He is sovereign and accomplishes all His holy will. Given that not all are saved, we can conclude that God did not purpose to save all, for if He had, He would have done it. We can therefore conclude that Christ’s work of atonement on the cross was specifically for the elect because if He had offered Himself as the atoning sacrifice to try to save all but didn’t manage to save all, He would not be sovereign.

Now each of us will critique our own statements of the other’s position, and each will have an opportunity to make any final comments. Joe’s words are in blue, and Diane’s are in red.


Here we conclude our official conversation, four months to the day after our first post was published. But the dialog is ongoing as we all learn and grow and modify our beliefs accordingly. My goal is not to win a debate, but rather to share ideas and insights. As we put our heads together, hopefully we can come to an understanding that is richer and closer to the truth than what any of us could come up with on our own.

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