TULIP: A Free Grace Perspective Part 3: Limited Atonement -- By: Anthony B. Badger
JOTGES 17:32 (Spring 2004) p. 33
TULIP: A Free Grace Perspective
Part 3: Limited Atonement
Associate Professor of Bible and Theology
Grace Evangelical School of Theology
If asked whether one is a Calvinist or Arminian, a very common response is, “I’m a four-point Calvinist.” This indicates that the person generally follows Calvinistic, Reformation doctrine, but believes that Jesus died for everyone, not just for those chosen by God and designated as “the elect.” A “four-point Calvinist” rules out the teaching known as Particular Redemption or Limited Atonement.
This article considers the doctrine of Limited Atonement and is the third in a series which seeks to correctly understand God’s endeavor to save man from sin. In the previous articles we have considered the doctrines of Total Depravity and Unconditional Election as taught and understood by both Calvinistic and Arminian stances on theology.
Before evaluating the views of Calvinists and Arminians, who stand at odds theologically, we will first consider the actual presentations of both.
II. The Reformed View of Limited Atonement1
Enns explains Limited Atonement by saying,
This view, also referred to as particular atonement or particular redemption, states that “God purposed by the atonement to save only the elect and that consequently all the elect, and they alone, are saved.” Christ’s death saves all it intended to save. Connection is again made with the preceding doctrine of unconditional election. If God has elected certain ones to
JOTGES 17:32 (Spring 2004) p. 34
salvation from eternity past, then it logically follows that He will also provide for the redemption of precisely those whom he has chosen.2
Note that the doctrine limits or restricts the number of people for whom Christ died.
Elwell explains that, “the choices boil down to two: either the death of Jesus was intended to secure salvation for a limited number or the death of Jesus was intended to provide salvation for everyone” and that the “first view is sometimes called ‘limited atonement’ because God limited the effect of Christ’s death to a specific number of elect persons, or ‘particular redemption’ because redemption was for a particular group of people.”3 It seems that Grudem implies “guilt by association” for anyone who is not of this Reformed persuasion by sa...
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