A Palatable Calvinism: Limited Atonement In The Theology Of John Piper -- By: David H. Wenkel
JODT 11:33 (Aug 2007) p. 69
A Palatable Calvinism: Limited Atonement In The Theology Of John Piper
Bible teacher, Winnetka Bible Church
Regardless of whether one thinks favorably or unfavorably about him, the ministry of John Piper has silenced those who accuse five point Calvinists of destroying the impetus for missions and evangelism.1 How has this been accomplished? The success and widespread acclamation of Piper’s books and other resources is impressive in light of his theological stance, especially that of limited atonement. The doctrine of limited atonement, elsewhere called particular redemption or definite atonement does have difficulties and has historically been the source of great debate. One’s position on the doctrine of the atonement has many logical and theological implications: some theoretical, some practical. How one understands Christ’s cross manifests a crucial role in theological issues such as the Gospel call and assurance. This article suggests that Piper’s Calvinism, specifically his doctrine of limited atonement, has taken on certain modifications that enable his theology to be widely accepted without great controversy.2
Piper’s Official Position
John Piper’s website is clear that he adheres to the five points of Calvinism (TULIP). On this website, he specifically addressed the matter of limited atonement and briefly defended his position. The explanation of limited atonement includes two important points. First, Piper and the Bethlehem Baptist Church Staff asserted, “in the cross God had in view the actual redemption of his children. And we affirm that when Christ died for these, he did not just create the opportunity for them to save themselves, but really purchased for them all that was necessary to get them saved, including the grace of regeneration and the gift of faith.”3 This is important to note because it
JODT 11:33 (Aug 2007) p. 70
connects God’s intentions in the cross particularly with the elect, propitiation is solely for the redeemed and none else.
Secondly, Piper and Bethlehem Baptist created a second or dualistic intention in the cross: “We do not deny that all men are the intended beneficiaries of the cross in some sense.”4 He continued citing biblical evidence for this position.
1 Timothy 4:10 says that Christ is “the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.” What we deny is that all men are inte...
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