Christ Died For All: Unlimited Atonement According To Robert D. Preus And Zane C. Hodges -- By: Shawn C. Lazar

Journal: Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Volume: JOTGES 27:53 (Autumn 2014)
Article: Christ Died For All: Unlimited Atonement According To Robert D. Preus And Zane C. Hodges
Author: Shawn C. Lazar


Christ Died For All: Unlimited Atonement According To Robert D. Preus And Zane C. Hodges1

Shawn C. Lazar

Associate Editor
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society

Corinth, TX

I. Introduction

For whom did Christ die? What did His death accomplish? Did He die for some people or for all humanity? And if He died for all, did He make full atonement for all or only for some?

Despite other serious disagreements, most theologians agree that you cannot reconcile belief in the universal benefits of the atonement with the belief that some people will be eternally condemned. They reason that if Christ actually paid for the sins of all mankind, there would be no penalty left for anyone to pay in hell, and all would be saved. However, since some people will go to hell, the benefits of the atonement must be limited in some way, otherwise God would be unjustly asking for a double payment for sin.2

Despite this near consensus, there is a minority of theologians who insist that the two beliefs can be reconciled. This

article will compare the atonement theologies of Robert D. Preus (1924-1995), representing the Lutheran tradition, and Zane C. Hodges (1932-2008), representing the Free Grace tradition. It will seek to show how each defended the universal benefits of the atonement while avoiding the double payment objection.

II. Jesus Died For All

Robert Preus and Zane Hodges both agreed that the atonement was unlimited in scope. They both agreed that Christ died for all mankind, believers and unbelievers alike, and not only for an elect few.

A. Preus On Objective Justification And Unlimited Atonement

Preus believed the Bible taught a universal atonement where Christ fully paid for the sins of the entire human race: “According to all of Scripture Christ made a full atonement for the sins of all mankind.”3 This belief is reflected in his explanation of the Lutheran doctrine of “objective justification,” which teaches that God has justified the whole world on the basis of the cross:

The doctrine of objective justification is a lovely teaching drawn from Scripture which tells us that God who has loved us so much that He gave His only Son to be our Savior has for the sake of Christ’s substitutionary atonement declared the entire world of sinners for whom Christ died to be righteous (emphasis added).You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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