Why do some Christians believe in limited atonement?

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Why do some Christians believe in limited atonement?

Postby Spartan_117 » Mon Oct 03, 2011 7:24 pm

This is an idea I've come across recently and it makes no sense to me. This verse right here basically straight up kills that idea.

"My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world" - 1 John 2:1-2. Can someone explain to me why some people believe in that idea?

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Re: Why do some Christians believe in limited atonement?

Postby ccgr » Mon Oct 03, 2011 7:39 pm

One common misunderstanding about the doctrine of limited atonement is that this view somehow lessens or limits the value of the atonement of Christ. Yet exactly the opposite is true. Limited atonement correctly recognizes that Christ’s death was of infinite value and lacking in nothing. In fact, it is of such value that, had God so willed, Christ’s death could have saved every member of the human race. Christ would not have had to suffer any more or do anything different to save every human who ever lived than He did in securing the salvation of the elect. But that was not God’s purpose in sending Christ to the cross. God’s purpose in the atonement was that Jesus would secure forever the salvation of those the Father had given to Him (Hebrews 7:25). Therefore, while Christ’s atonement was limited in its intent or purpose, it was unlimited in its power.

How can we understand the paradox that occurs because the Bible teaches God intends that only the elect will be saved, yet, on the other hand, the Bible also unequivocally declares that God freely and sincerely offers salvation to everyone who will believe? (Ezekiel 33:11; Isaiah 45:22; 55:1; Matthew 11:28; 23:37; 2 Peter 3:9; Revelation 22:17) The solution to this paradox is simply an acknowledgment of all that the Bible teaches. 1) The call of the gospel is universal in the sense that anybody that hears it and believes in it will be saved. 2) Because everyone is dead in trespasses and sin, no one will believe the gospel and respond in faith unless God first makes those who are dead in their trespasses and sins alive (Ephesians 2:1-5). The Bible teaches that “whosoever believes” will have eternal life and then explains why some believe and some don’t.


http://www.gotquestions.org/limited-atonement.html

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Re: Why do some Christians believe in limited atonement?

Postby bgpablo » Sun Nov 06, 2011 9:08 pm

This is one of those scenarios where "cherry-picking" a verse can lead to some skewed theological views. Reading the whole chapter gives a clearer idea that to what was just said it that one verse alone. Verses 3 - 5 make it clear that only those that cling God's commandments will be saved. Verse 2 is a verse of hope for the world that anyone has the opportunity to find Christ as there is no limit to his forgiving/ substitutionary power!!
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Re: Why do some Christians believe in limited atonement?

Postby ArcticFox » Thu Dec 01, 2011 4:05 pm

Could somebody explain what "Limited Atonement" is, for ignoramuses like myself?
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Re: Why do some Christians believe in limited atonement?

Postby ccgr » Thu Dec 01, 2011 5:19 pm

Basically why only the believers are saved and not just everybody who breathes is saved.

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Re: Why do some Christians believe in limited atonement?

Postby Deepfreeze32 » Thu Dec 01, 2011 8:11 pm

I thought Limited Atonement meant the predetermined-salvation thing... (You know, where God "Elects" those who will be saved)

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Re: Why do some Christians believe in limited atonement?

Postby ccgr » Thu Dec 01, 2011 9:17 pm

Even though we have free will, God still chose or knows who will be accepting His offer in advance

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Re: Why do some Christians believe in limited atonement?

Postby Deepfreeze32 » Thu Dec 01, 2011 11:45 pm

Yeaahh...now that I take issue with. I don't believe in an omni-God, because I think that's attempting apply Plato's ideas about omni* to God with very little scriptural backing. Does he exist outside of time? Yes. But I also think that he chooses not to see the future. Why? Because if he saw the future, there would be no such thing as free will. Don't care how you spin it, God knowing the future completely and totally negates free will. I am a believer in free will.

So I agree with you, Spartan. I've had many discussions with my bible professors about this issue, and I tend to accept their word more than that of anyone on the internet (No offense to you guys of course, I tend to trust a Ph.D more than a forum poster). Their thoughts go something like this:

Assuming God can know everything about the future: He chooses not to so we have free will.

Assuming he doesn't know the future: We don't have many issues here. We have free will, and life goes on.


If you guys want, I could concoct a logical proof of this. :D (This would take time...so expect slow responses)

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Re: Why do some Christians believe in limited atonement?

Postby ccgr » Fri Dec 02, 2011 7:27 am

If God doesn't know the future then how can you explain all of the prophesies foretelling the coming of Jesus...a good guess? How much control do you think God has? I truly don't think we can catch Him off guard. Why can't we have free will? The ones he has chosen he will pursue...Paul got a personal encounter unlike most of us. Everyone else gets to live life as they choose to. Yes they'll hear the message but chances are that they'll reject it and it's their choice! In order to receive Christ into your heart it has to be softened first and receptive to it. Think of the hard headed pharoah with the plagues of Egypt. It took him a while to let the Israelites go, but he chose to in the end. God planned all of that. Was God just showing off? He's always got a plan I bet there were some Egyptian conversion happening in those days. (Again their choice after seeing what He could do)

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Re: Why do some Christians believe in limited atonement?

Postby Deepfreeze32 » Fri Dec 02, 2011 9:03 am

To the Christ bit: Planning. Not guessing. Planning.

Now I will answer each question in a random order. Starting with:
He's always got a plan I bet there were some Egyptian conversion happening in those days. (Again their choice after seeing what He could do)
That would be all fair and good, but that ignores a really major problem. Judaism isn't about salvation in the sense of proselytization. I've never met an Evangelical Jew, and I bet there sure weren't any back then. The point of Judaism is living to serve God, not to convert everyone you can. Converting to Judaism is actually a long and fairly difficult process, as they often tell you "You probably shouldn't do this."

(The above information is from my friends who are Jewish)

Anyway, this point is beside the main point of your post. :P
How much control do you think God has?
Control and knowledge are not mutually inclusive things. For example, a programmer has control over his program, but he doesn't necessarily know everything there is to know about the programming language he uses.

Or you may have control of a car, but may not know exactly how the car is designed and built.
Why can't we have free will?
If God truly does know everything, then free will is nonexistent. If you don't believe me, allow me to explain the paradox.

(See below for a more concise form)

Suppose you have a choice between going to a university or a community college. Further suppose that God knows everything about everyone ever. You have the illusion of choice, because even though you think you have the ability to chose, you don't. If you chose something that God didn't know, then God wouldn't be omniscient, would he? If God knows everything, then he knows what you will do for every single choice you will ever make. If he knows all this, he must further know exactly everything that will happen to you. He essentially has a timeline of your life before humans even existed. So tell me again, how can we have free will here? I think I've demonstrated that if God knows everything, we do not have free will in anything. We may think we do, but if God knows everything, we very obviously don't.

In simple terms:
(1) If God knows in advance that X will do A, then it must be the case that X will do A.
(2) If it must be the case that X will do A, then X is not free to refrain from A.

From (1) and (2) it follows that if God knows in advance that someone will take a certain action, then that person isn't free with respect to that action.
Think of the hard headed Pharaoh with the plagues of Egypt. It took him a while to let the Israelites go, but he chose to in the end. God planned all of that.
Hmm, interesting. You seem to have contradicted your argument yourself. :?

Let's apply my model here. If God knows the Pharaoh will not let the Israelites go until God has cursed Egypt with ten plagues, then it must be the case that the Pharaoh will not let the Israelites go until God has cursed Egypt with ten plagues. If it weren't the case, then God wouldn't really know, would he?

If if it must be the case that the Pharaoh will not let the Israelites go until God has cursed Egypt with ten plagues, then the Pharaoh is not free to refrain from letting the Israelites go until God has cursed Egypt with ten plagues. If he could refrain from doing so, then that would mean that God didn't know the outcome, since there was a chance God could be wrong.



So my point here isn't that predestination or free will are "Right" or "Wrong", but attempting to say that we are predestined AND have free will results in logical fallacies.

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Re: Why do some Christians believe in limited atonement?

Postby ArcticFox » Fri Dec 02, 2011 9:22 am

Thanks for the replies to my questions, but since y'all seemed to disagree on the meaning I went ahead and Wiki'd it. I don't know how accurate this is (It is Wiki, after all) but it seems to line up with some of what's been said:
Limited atonement (or definite atonement or particular redemption) is a doctrine in Christian theology which is particularly associated with the Reformed tradition and is one of the five points of Calvinism. The doctrine states that Jesus Christ's substitutionary atonement on the cross is limited in scope to those who are predestined unto salvation and its primary benefits are not given to all of humanity but rather just believers.
The debate you guys are having over whether one can have freewill AND God can have foreknowledge of future events is just like one I was involved in on NSG once. I came up with some pretty good points -- after the argument was over :(
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Re: Why do some Christians believe in limited atonement?

Postby Deepfreeze32 » Fri Dec 02, 2011 9:28 am

I came up with some pretty good points -- after the argument was over :(
Story of my life. :(

I ALWAYS come up with great points for debates....after the debate is over.

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Re: Why do some Christians believe in limited atonement?

Postby ccgr » Fri Dec 02, 2011 9:34 am

The point is God has blessed us with various personalities and unique traits. We could have all been designed the same and forced to acknowledge and worship him. If the ability to worship him was forced then it would be meaningless right? The ability to worship and praise God willingly and happily means more than forced or worshiping out of fear.

We can choose to worship or walk away and blow God off (not recommended). God knows who His followers are and will be..how does that take away their choice to do so? God knew Samson would be set apart and he made some blunders and mistakes but God's will was done in the end. Samson asked for strength in his final moment so it wasn't forced on him and many Philistines died that day. God knew all of that would happen but didn't directly intervene for Samson at that moment. Yes He helped power him in battles (provided his hair was long) but God did not spare him his eye sight or encounters with Delilah. God lets us mess up, He does permit evil but it can still be used to God's advantage (Story of Joseph). No matter what we do, we cannot throw God for a loop.

I believe that God knew how the world would end before He created it and somehow it was still worth it to carry on with the idea. The human race is evil by nature and God knew that Jesus would need to save us before he asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. By Abraham willing to take that step, so was God. That's an awful lot of planning and how it can go off without a hitch without divine knowledge is beyond me.

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Re: Why do some Christians believe in limited atonement?

Postby Deepfreeze32 » Fri Dec 02, 2011 10:52 am

The point is God has blessed us with various personalities and unique traits. We could have all been designed the same and forced to acknowledge and worship him. If the ability to worship him was forced then it would be meaningless right? The ability to worship and praise God willingly and happily means more than forced or worshiping out of fear.
This I agree with. This is also why I do NOT subscribe to predestination.

We can choose to worship or walk away and blow God off (not recommended).


This I agree with.
God knows who His followers are and will be..how does that take away their choice to do so? God knew Samson would be set apart and he made some blunders and mistakes but God's will was done in the end. Samson asked for strength in his final moment so it wasn't forced on him and many Philistines died that day. God knew all of that would happen but didn't directly intervene for Samson at that moment. Yes He helped power him in battles (provided his hair was long) but God did not spare him his eye sight or encounters with Delilah. God lets us mess up, He does permit evil but it can still be used to God's advantage (Story of Joseph). No matter what we do, we cannot throw God for a loop.


It takes away the choice to do so by logic. If God knows X will do A, then X MUST do A. If X didn't do A, then God wouldn't know. So if X MUST do A, how does X have any freedom at all in whether or not they do A?

I'd like to see some scripture references to God knowing everything about Samson BTW. I think it would be beneficial to both of us to have some scriptural justification on this.

I agree that God lets us mess up. That said, I don't think he "Knows" the future. I think he has a plan. We have free will to follow the plan or not.

I'm going to sidetrack a bit and explain my beliefs a bit more. I believe that God has a plan for a lot of things. He knows that different choices will have different outcomes. However, I do not believe he knows exactly what each and every one of us will do. I think that the model for what happens goes something like this:
God wants X to do A. God knows that if X does not do A, consequences will occur. X has the final choice in the matter. God isn't thrown for a loop by either choice because he knew what all the outcomes could be.
I believe God doesn't know exactly what we will do. But he can adapt our choices to his plan so that his will is done. The best example I can think of this is
That's an awful lot of planning and how it can go off without a hitch without divine knowledge is beyond me.
That's assuming God has the same limitations we do. :wink:


Anyway, I have no idea how clear I'm being. I'm at work and a little exhausted, so ask for clarification if I don't make sense. :P

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Re: Why do some Christians believe in limited atonement?

Postby Bascom » Wed Dec 28, 2011 4:24 pm

Q: Why do some Christian believe in limited atonement?
A: Given the below justification, they prefer human speculation over Biblical truth OR twist the meaning of the words in the Bible to their own liking.

When you have change in your pocket, and see a soda machine, you have the ability to buy a Soda, but also the ability to not use the machine. Likewise, just because God has the ability to know everything including who will become saved, "omniscient," this doesn't mean that God has to use this ability. He also has the power, "omnipotent," to choose not to.

As the respondents have said, we know from scripture that God, in the form of Jesus, has used his omniscience in the past. As a popular example, omniscience was used when Jesus foretold that Judas will betray him [Matthew 26:25]. I've yet to see any indication that man knows the reasons why and when this power is to be used. Anything outside of the Bible, is merely human speculation. We are not perfect, so our speculation is filled with flaws. The Bible uses at least 9 passages to state Christ died so that "All" or "The whole world" have the ability to be saved or atoned for. [John 1:29, John 3:16-17, 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, 1 Timothy 2-6, 1 Timothy 4:10, Titus 2:11, 2 Peter 2:1, 2 Peter 3:9, 1 John 2:2].

According to Wikipedia, the justification for those who believe in limited atonement is that the word "All" or "the world" really means "the Elect" [src=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limited_atonement]

Further Reference
God is Omniscient (All Knowing): http://www.parentcompany.com/awareness_of_god/aog12.htm
God is Omnipotent (All Powerful): http://www.parentcompany.com/awareness_of_god/aog13.htm


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