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January 16, 2012

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Jesus did not die for all, neither is his death available to all.

In John 10 he told the pharisees that he was giving his life for his sheep. He then told them the reason they didn't believe was because they weren't his sheep. In essence telling them he wasn't dieing for them.

To make salvation conditional based on faith, as mentioned, rules out the salvation of infants and others beyond the scope of meeting conditions (works).

I like the summary Greg gave at the end.

dave: we are saved by God's grace, not by our work.

"I die for my sheep" + "You are not my sheep" does not imply "I don't die for you". This is an elementary logical fallacy. So Jesus was not, in essence, or in any other way, telling the Pharisees that He didn't die for them.

People don't go to Hell because Christ's death wasn't effective for them. The only human souls in Hell are saved souls. They're there because they hate God by their own choice, not because God has anything against them. Christ took care of all that when He reconciled the world to Himself.

I believe the Bible says the saved are predestined.

What room does the bible leave for this talk of an offer to everyone?

RonH

Nice, succinct summary, WL. I agree entirely.

It is at least misleadling (and more likely just plain dishonest) for Greg to claim that there is a legitimate sense in which Christ died for all. Greg does not believe that he did. If the government passed legislation to the effect that only red-heads could use the highways, then there is no legitimate sense in which the highways are there for all. They're there for the gingers and the gingers alone. I'd have a lot more respect for folks like Koukl if they would stop trying to stretch the sense of words like "all" out of recognition in order to help themselves to nice-sounding phrases like "Christ died for all".

WL,

they hate God by their own choice

Choice? I thought they weren't elect.

You make a choice?

RonH

Arnauld,
I don't see how you can come to that conclusion based on what Greg said in the video.

RonH,

You make a choice?

You pretending to not already know the answer that will be given to you?

I might want to change one word in the post above: The souls in Hell are all justified souls. I suppose that if they were saved, they'd be...well...saved.

Ron-

I'm a compatibilist. I think that it is perfectly possible that "Jones is reprobate" is true at the same time that "Jones freely chooses to go to Hell" is true.

Hi WL, I'm glad you changed the word "saved" as I wanted to know what they were saved from, if not Hell?

But now I wonder what you mean by "justified". Why are those God sees as righteous in Hell?

SteveK,

Nope I'm not pretending. Nor do I understand what that would accomplish for anybody.

I'm baffled. I hear people say the were chosen. In fact it seems a matter of pride that they know to say that the Holy Spirit worked in them rather than to say that they chose.

Now I hear the offer is open to all but some hate God by choice.

Did you make a choice?

RonH

Steve - my objection was to 00:35 to 1:12. I don't think that comment was anything more than semantical BS ("nonsense" if "BS" is too strong a word for on here, though I genuinely think 'BS' is a more accurate term).

It does become more honest and straightforward after that, so maybe I shouldn't have been entirely negative.

"It does become more honest and straightforward after that, so maybe I shouldn't have been entirely negative."
THose new leaves are hard to turn over, aren't they?

Meeting Conditions = Works

Daron-

I think that souls God sees as righteous are not in heaven because they don't want to go. This is my Lutheranism coming out. We have all the freedom in the world to go to Hell.

Semantic sophistry is exactly right. But what else would one expect from defenders of such a view? The view is, after all, that in response to human abandonment of God, God mostly returned the favor, freely abandoning most of humanity to eternal and unrelenting perdition, despite the fact that he could have satisfied both justice and mercy by atoning for the sins of all through Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. On this view, it is true that all of those who repent can receive the forgiveness of sins. But it is also true that God is in control of who repents, and freely chooses to be quite niggardly about granting repentance, thereby guaranteeing that most folks are reduced vessels of wrath so God can show off his wrathful muscles and thereby enhance his glory. So what we really have on our hands is something analogous to a person saying the following:

Oh, of course we will offer forgiveness to all prisoners and thereby offer all the opportunity to be released from prison. However, in order to qualify for the offer, the prisoners must meet a certain condition, a condition that without my aid they are unable to meet. Furthermore, I will only offer this aid to a few of the prisoners. But calm down, calm down, it’s still a universal offer to all, since it is still true that whoever ends up satisfying the condition will be released. See? I told you the offer extends to all prisoners.

One could be forgiven for feeling that if heaven is run by such a being, then it is run by none other than a dishonest car-salesmen who is willing to engage in semantic jugglery in order to convince his clients that they were all actually offered an opportunity to feast at his table despite the fact that the necessary conditions for even entering the dining hall were freely withheld from the majority of folks by none other than the host himself.

But I have no doubt that the motivations here are the same as usual. "My inerrantism and interpretations of Scripture compel me to say these things, so that is the way I go." Yes, yes, yes. And I say, "What a mercy that you are not convinced that the Bible teaches universal infant damnation, since if you were, we'd have the misfortune of being told by defenders of the fort just how reasonable that ridiculous doctrine is."

"But it is also true that God is in control of who repents, and freely chooses to be quite niggardly about granting repentance, thereby guaranteeing that most folks are reduced vessels of wrath so God can show off his wrathful muscles and thereby enhance his glory."

I'm not a Calvinist, so much of what you are saying here does not directly apply to my (Lutheran) view. But in any case, I'm not sure how you came to know that the claim you make above is true. I'm not saying it isn't true. I just don't know one way or the other. I haven't seen the end of human history.

I don't think you have seen the end of it either, so I don't think that you do know that your claim is true. With that in mind, I'm not sure what kind of attack can really be mounted against Calvinism in particular and non-universalism generally from a position of ignorance.

Universal infant damnation might not be an explicit doctrine of scripture, but it seems to me that it is a logical consequence of the doctrines folks like Koukl claim to find in scripture. The Offer is only open to those who respond positively to the gospel ("belief is necessary"). Seems to me that it is ad hoc (or maybe "a concession to soft, liberal sentiments") to make an exception for infants. Be consistent and up front and follow William Lane Craig in claiming that all humans who die before reaching the age at which they could respond to the gospel go straight to hell (but that its OK because God knew through his middle knowledge that they all would have freely rejected him anyway). No less reprehensible, but at least it would be honest.

Oh, and WL - I'm still on board with everything you've said.

What always seems to get lost in these discussions is that Christian theology teaches that God is Holy, and as such, what we think of God's rescue plan is of no consequence to his Holiness.

What we should strive to understand is the rescue plan itself - because, by definition, it must be a righteous and just plan - and there's only one place we can go to get that understanding, Scripture.

I'm not sure what Calvinists would say about it, but as a Lutheran, I'd say that infant faith happens along with Holy Baptism. So the idea of universal infant damnation is rejected.

As for unbaptized infants, I think they go into the category of "We don't know". But we do know that God is not wicked.

I'm not a Calvinist, so much of what you are saying here does not directly apply to my (Lutheran) view. But in any case, I'm not sure how you came to know that the claim you make above is true. I'm not saying it isn't true. I just don't know one way or the other. I haven't seen the end of human history.

Well I don't think that any of what I described is true. I'm merely describing what I take to be the Calvinist perspective. According to that perspective, God is able to effectually and monergistically regenerate and thereby redeem any person God pleases. Koukl, from what I gather, is a Calvinst. So, I'm assuming he endorses this stuff. I was merely describing what I take the Calvinist view to be.

As for unbaptized infants, I think they go into the category of "We don't know". But we do know that God is not wicked.

Ahh, so is the suggestion, "Well mother dearest, we just don't know whether God is glorifying himself by parading his wrath upon the back of your dead infant, but God is good, so whether or not he is doing this, I'm sure it's for the best." Is that what is being said?

"Ahh, so is the suggestion, "Well mother dearest, we just don't know whether God is glorifying himself by parading his wrath upon the back of your dead infant, but God is good, so whether or not he is doing this, I'm sure it's for the best." Is that what is being said?"

Hi Malbranche, I think the answer to this was already given preemptively by W/L.

"But we do know that God is not wicked."

For your information, here's the WCF chapter 10 paragraph on Effectual Calling and infants.

"III. Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated, and saved by Christ, through the Spirit, who works when, and where, and how He pleases: so also are all other elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word."

If you disagree with this, be so kind as to prove it by scripture.

Malebranche-

What I was claiming that you do not know is that if universalism is false, then the majority of people are lost.

And I was right to claim that.

For all any of us know, at the end of human existence, 0.00000000001% of all humans may be lost. Or it could be 99.9999999999999%. No one knows except God. Least of all you and I.

BTW, Malebranche,

What kind of argument are you giving here? Are you making the claim that universalism is true? Or are you saying that denying it might hurt someone's feelings?

I'll readily grant that denying universalism might hurt someone's feelings.

Of course, the same might be said of affirming universalism.

Well dearest Menachim, the man responsible for killing most of your family during the war, the man who ordered the castration of your brother and had your wife raped before your eyes, that man will be forgiven and allowed into heaven. But don't worry, your infant son that he had skinned to make a lamp shade will also be there, so it's all good. Right?

Is that what you are saying?

Excellent emotional rebuttal, WL, (sincerely) to the emotional claims that Malebranche relies on in every post about God's judgement. We could play this emotional game all day, but I'd rather *someone* start referencing scripture to help sort it all out.

Because the ignorance of our heretic-hunting slanderers is unbounded:
When Arnauld says:

Be consistent and up front and follow William Lane Craig in claiming that all humans who die before reaching the age at which they could respond to the gospel go straight to hell (but that its OK because God knew through his middle knowledge that they all would have freely rejected him anyway). No less reprehensible, but at least it would be honest.


William Lane Craig actually says:

Moreover, if we believe, as I do, that God’s grace is extended to those who die in infancy or as small children, the death of these children was actually their salvation. We are so wedded to an earthly, naturalistic perspective that we forget that those who die are happy to quit this earth for heaven’s incomparable joy.

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5767

Hi WL:

I'm not sure what Calvinists would say about it, but as a Lutheran, I'd say that infant faith happens along with Holy Baptism. So the idea of universal infant damnation is rejected.

I never speak for Calvinists. But I can speak for Calvin on this - no to infant damnation.

You might be tired of seeing this, and the others might be tired of ignoring it, but here is the Spurgeon defence of Calvinsism again:
http://www.spurgeon.org/calvinis.htm

Moreover, I have never read that there is to be in hell a great multitude, which no man could number. I rejoice to know that the souls of all infants, as soon as they die, speed their way to Paradise. Think what a multitude there is of them! Then there are already in Heaven unnumbered myriads of the spirits of just men made perfect—the redeemed of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues up till now;

"People don't go to Hell because Christ's death wasn't effective for them. The only human souls in Hell are saved souls. They're there because they hate God by their own choice, not because God has anything against them. Christ took care of all that when He reconciled the world to Himself."

Wow. I guess I have more beliefs in common with Lutheranism than I thought, although we disagree about what the words "free choice" mean.

WL asked of Malebranche:

Well dearest Menachim, the man responsible for killing most of your family during the war, the man who ordered the castration of your brother and had your wife raped before your eyes, that man will be forgiven and allowed into heaven. But don't worry, your infant son that he had skinned to make a lamp shade will also be there, so it's all good. Right?

Is that what you are saying?

In fact, that is what he is saying.
Malebranche thinks, and affirms, that even if one man (an unrepentant Stalin, for example) winds up in Hell, then God is a monster. And, of course, Malebranche does not think God is a monster. By his example, we can all see that Malebranche thinks God is love.

Hey WL,
Can you expound on this idea of subjective justification a bit?
Since we are justified by faith, and faith is unto salvation, and since Romans 8 tells us that those who are justified are also glorified, how is it that there are justified people in hell?

Somehow, I suspect (along with WL I gather) that this is one of those times when humans debate, and God laughs.

Whether Arnauld has a clue about whether infant damnation is the logical result of Calvinistic thinking:
http://www.reformed.org/calvinism/index.html?mainframe=/calvinism/boettner/infants_boettner.html

We are justified by grace through faith.

That is our justification is given to us by grace. We receive it through faith. One cannot receive justification through faith unless one is, in fact, justified, unless that justification first exists to be received.

Through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. Notice that, in spite of this, some men are not condemned (the faithful) and some men are not justified (the unbelieving).

The justification that is given to us is purchased by the finished work of the One who justifies the ungodly in whom God was reconciling the world to Himself.

We receive it through faith, which is the result of the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit.

What kind of argument are you giving here? Are you making the claim that universalism is true? Or are you saying that denying it might hurt someone's feelings?

Hurting folks' feelings is not usually something I'm too concerned about. My point is just this. Koukl says that on his view God offers salvation to all. If Koukl endorses Calvinism as I understand it (which I think he does), then that is merely semantic sophistry. There is no significant sense in which God offers forgiveness to all sinners, if classical Calvinism is true. The offer is no more genuine than a person offering a prisoner the opportunity to be released if (and only if) the prisoner meets condition X, but following that up with, "Oh, and in your current condition and through your own fault, you are not able to meet condition X without my aid, and I am refusing to give you that aid." Only a double-talker would say that in such a case the prisoner has genuinely been offered the opportunity to be released from prison.

So you can see that this has nothing at all to do with universalism. Let most of the world burn, if you like, for the sake of this conversation. The point still stands that on the classical Calvinist view, repentance is a necessary condition of salvation, humans are unable to repent apart from the regenerating grace of God, and God refuses to extend that grace to some. It strikes me as an abuse of language and as double-talk to say, "Oh, but God nevertheless offers salvation to all," but I can see why Calvinists would want to search all of semantic space to find a way to say that, since portions of Scripture seem to point that direction, and many Calvinists falsely believe that the Bible contains a unified, coherent, consistent, and true message concerning this topic.

Thanks WL,
I was wondering if you had anything else on this.
Again, I'm not going to try to wear you down on this.
But, quickly, you say:

Notice that, in spite of this, some men are not condemned (the faithful) and some men are not justified (the unbelieving).
...
We receive it through faith, which is the result of the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit.

You say both that all those in Hell are justified and yet, that some are not justified. You say all have justification even though some do not receive it.
Clearly there is equivocation going on here with the word "justified" ( as the objective/subjective split demonstrates in an upfront manner).
But this is not necessary. To say that we must be truly, objectively, justified in order for our faith to be about something true does not require that we say forgiven, righteous, people are in Hell.

Steve-

I wasn't exactly trying to rebut M's position by emotion. I was just trying to show that the sword of emotion cuts both ways.

Obviously, I think you have to prove whatever you're saying through Scripture and plain reason.

If it might hurt someone's feelings, I don't really have any special wisdom to offer other than: tell the truth, but don't be an insensitive jerk. I am horribly unprepared to act even upon this meager wisdom, as I am a bit of an insensitive jerk...my sensitivity is limited to the fact that I recognize that it's possible to be insensitive about this stuff.

As for what Scripture says, I think there are three main kinds of texts on this subject.

The first kind was used by Dave right at the outset of this thread. Passages that explicitly say that Christ died for his sheep, or His church, or His disciples or what have you. He died for some group, the elect, that is less than the total of humanity.

The second set of Scriptures are those that say that Christ died for, atoned for, reconciled etc the whole world or all men. These seems to suggest that He died for the elect because He died for everyone, but He also died for those who would ultimately reject Him.

The third kind say that Christ died for us. These are ambiguous. Is the writer/speaker referring to us men, or to us believers? Obviously, there need not be any one answer here. Perhaps in some cases he is referring to us men, and in other cases, us believers. One thing to see about these passages, though, is that, however they work out, they end up falling into one or the other of our two previous categories.

Here's the way I read this. The passages that say Christ died for all, if taken at face value, logically imply that He died for the elect. That is, they logically imply all the passages that say that He died for some more select group. But they also imply that he died for the complement of that group. For the reprobate, the damned, the unbelieving. The only way you break this second implication is to interpret "the world" as meaning "the church in the world", "all" as meaning "all believers" or some such. But this is not what Scripture says at face value.

On the other hand, the passages that say that Christ died for the elect do not logically imply that He did not die for the reprobate as well. When when I say that I love bacon, I have not said that I don't also love pulled pork or Andouille sausage or pork chops (anyone's mouth watering?). Loving some of the pig doesn't mean I don't love all of the pig.

The only way you get to the idea that Christ did not die for the reprobate from the claim "Christ died for the elect" is to make an appeal to some conversational implicature. That by affirming something of the more particular, you thereby intend to deny it of the more general.

This is not a law of logic, but just a decent rule-of-thumb for English grammar. For all I know, it is not even a good rule-of-thumb for the languages that Jesus and His disciples (including Paul) actually spoke.

All in all then, it seems to me that a plain understanding of the passages militates in favor of the idea of an unlimited atonement. Somewhat nuanced readings are needed to get a limited atonement out of the same texts.

There are also one or two passages that explicitly say the Jesus died for a lost person or persons. For example. Peter (2 Peter 2) speaks of heretics who deny the sovereign Lord who bought them. One could argue, I suppose that Peter might have been prophesying in a back-handed way that these particular heretics would eventually convert. But I think the plain reading is that Christ died for them, though lost.

Malebranche,
I am not an expert on Calvinism as it may soon become obvious, but I wanted to comment on this.

The point still stands that on the classical Calvinist view, repentance is a necessary condition of salvation, humans are unable to repent apart from the regenerating grace of God, and God refuses to extend that grace to some.

If God knows the end from the beginning then isn't it reasonable to conclude that God knows who will willingly respond to his grace and who will not - and as such - is justified in not extending it to those people?

Hi WL,

The only way you break this second implication is to interpret "the world" as meaning "the church in the world", "all" as meaning "all believers" or some such. But this is not what Scripture says at face value.
Another way is to think of how "the whole world" and "all" are sued throughout the Bible, and the NT in particular.
For instance ...
John 12:19
19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!”

We do not have to get all gymnastical :) to read this kind of statement without wooden literalism. Good grammar is enough.

I did not mean to imply any legal action there ...
sued = used

A common example that always comes to my mind:
Mark 1:33
The whole town gathered at the door.

http://bible.cc/mark/1-33.htm

Malebranche,
I'm using your prison example as an analogy to think this through for myself. Here goes nothing...

The required debt was paid for all so the judge is justified in giving all prisoners the *opportunity* to be released from their cell.

The judge, being very wise and knowledgeable, knows who will commit to seeking that which is good after being released, and who will not.

The judge knows that for some prisoners, years will pass by before they come to commit (repent) and are ready to live out their commitment whereas some will do it immediately upon hearing the good news of their impending release.

Knowing this, the judge unlocks each cell at the proper time and not a moment sooner/later.

The prisoners who remain in their cells wonder why they are not being released and think the judge is being unfair. The judge repeats what was said above about him being wise and knowledgeable and explains why he is justified in not unlocking the cell. These prisoners grumble and continue in their rebellion.

Comments??

Daron-

Though it is true that "the world" and similar universal claims can be used in a hyperbolic way. I mean, I do that all the time. I don't think you are going to be able to fit all of the "all" passages into that template.

Hi WL,
What I'm saying is that there is no grammatical stunt being pulled, and it is not a twist of language, to realize that "all" and "whole world" do not always intend to convey the idea of every single individual in the entire world. It's not that we have to escape their implications, but that in many cases it is plain that the implication was never there for the writer or the hearers. The whole town did not come to the door, they did not bring every single diseased person to Jesus, He did not heal every single diseased person, the whole world was not taxed, etc.
When Jesus says He came for His sheep, that He was dying for them, that He died to purify the Church, that He was not praying for the world but for those given Him, that there are those He sends away because He never knew them, etc., we have just such a reason to realize that He did not die for every single person the world over and throughout history in the same way that His death was for others.

To me, the oddness of God punishing a second time those who He views as righteous and forgiven also weighs against your statement.

Here's Sproul on the question
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lEJY1rGYHss

Did Jesus die for the people that perished in the flood, providing for them a conditional salvation without ever giving them the conditions to meet?

How about the apparent billions that perished likewise?

And Piper
http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/piper/piper_atonement.html

Malebranche:

"There is no significant sense in which God offers forgiveness to all sinners, if classical Calvinism is true. The offer is no more genuine than a person offering a prisoner the opportunity to be released if (and only if) the prisoner meets condition X, but following that up with,"

I as a "calvinist" agree with your first sentence, and argue that there is no "offer" at all, but imperetive commands to repent and believe. Many Reformed writers speak of the "true offer of salvation", but this is not to be taken in the same sense as the effectual call within the Reformed systematic theology.

I dont know if you'd be willing, but if so, show me where there is an offer of salvation in the NT. If by offer you mean God saying if you do such and such, then I'll do such and such. In the process, see if it's reasonable to understand it as prescriptive language.

Hi SteveK in your scenario, is God seeing into the future to discover who will believe?

Brad - Not discovering the end from the beginning, but knowing it.

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