God’s Purposes in the Atonement for the Nonelect -- By: Gary L. Shultz Jr.

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 165:658 (Apr 2008)
Article: God’s Purposes in the Atonement for the Nonelect
Author: Gary L. Shultz Jr.


God’s Purposes in the Atonement for the Nonelect

Gary L. Shultz Jr.

Gary L. Shultz Jr. is a Ph.D. candidate in systematic theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky.

The extent of the Atonement continues to be a contentious issue among evangelical Christians.1 In discussing God’s purpose in His Son’s death some evangelicals say God offered His Son as an atoning sacrifice in order to save a particular group of people, His elect.2 This position is known as limited atonement, definite atonement, or particular redemption. Others say God offered His Son as an atoning sacrifice in order “to make salvation possible for all persons. Christ died for all persons, but his atoning death becomes effective only when accepted by the individual.”3 This position is known as unlimited atonement.4 The

main difference between the two views is whether Christ’s atonement actually secured salvation or made it provisionally available.

Advocates of both particular redemption and unlimited atonement agree that only the Atonement is the basis of salvation.5 Every saved person receives the benefits of the Atonement, whether it is viewed as a provisional payment or as a certain payment. These benefits include Christ’s substitution for sin (Isa. 53:4–6; 2 Cor. 5:21), propitiation (Rom. 3:24–25; 1 John 2:1–2), redemption (Mark 10:45; Acts 20:28), justification (Rom. 3:24–28; Titus 3:5–7), and reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18; 1 Pet. 3:18).6

A significant area of disagreement, though, is whether God, when He sent Jesus to the cross, did so with any purpose(s) for those human beings who would never receive salvation, the nonelect. Advocates of particular redemption believe that He did not, while advocates of unlimited atonement believe that He did. While some proponents of p...

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