The Case For Definite Atonement -- By: Roger R. Nicole

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 10:4 (Fall 1967)
Article: The Case For Definite Atonement
Author: Roger R. Nicole


The Case For Definite Atonement

Roger Nicole

Introduction:

It is with special joy that I accept this invitation to present a brief paper sketching the case for definite atonement. A professor of Systematic Theology in an interdenominational conservative school must naturally feel constrained to afford a fair representation not only to his own convictions but to the various views to which some evangelicals are committed. Under those circumstances I seldom have occasion to make a direct plea for particular redemption. At this time, however, the case for universal atonement is in the hands of two scholars who hold to it and set it forth in two papers appearing in the present issue of B.E.S.T. With zest, therefore do I undertake the task to express and vindicate the doctrine of definite atonement.

I. Precise Point at Issue

In order to dispel misunderstanding frequently prevailing in spite of clear and emphatic statements (which inexplicably remain unheeded), it may be wise at the outset to specify precisely what is in view here.

The doctrine is not concerned with the intrinsic value of the sacrifice of Christ. It is freely granted by all parties to the controversy, and specifically by the Reformed, that the death of our Lord, by virtue of His divine nature, is of infinite worth and therefore amply sufficient to redeem all mankind, all angels and the whole world, even a thousand worlds besides, if He had so intended. Rather the point at issue here concerns the chief purpose of the Father in sending the Son and the chief intention of Christ in laying down His life in sacrifice.

The Reformed as well as others admit, yea are eager to acknowledge, that there are certain blessings short of salvation, which are the fruits of the work of Christ, which may terminate upon any and all men, and which do in fact benefit substantially some who will never attain unto salvation. The point which is here in view, however, is whether salvation itself, involving all its integral elements, reconciliation, forgiveness, justification, sanctification, glorification, etc., has been actually secured and purchased by Christ for all men, or for the elect only.

It should be well understood that among evangelicals there is no major contention as to whether all will in fact be saved. With deep sorrow at the thought of the destiny of the lost, all parties here in presence confess that the Scripture makes it patently plain that ultimately some men will be saved and others will be lost. Thus it is important to emphasize at the outset that even those who assert a universal intent for the death of Christ do not go so far as to say that all men will in fact attain unto salvation.

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