ECT This should start a decent discussion: Universal Atonement


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Christ did what was impossible for any of us (post Adam at least) to do. PERIOD. It was not primarily as example that he came.

But is WAS... That is what you are not getting yet... He came that we should walk as He walked...

I am not saying that there is no role for Christ as example in our lives. He is our perfect example. But when we make "example" the primary thing for which he came, we subordinate and reduce his atoning work, to the exclusion of greater more significant aspects of atonement. The "independent" churches' doctrine of Moral Example Atonement is the prime example of this, to which many charismatics and Weslyans subscribe, Cross Reference being a prime example (and this is not to denigrate CR, for there are numerous aspects of his theology and understanding where he is helpful; his insights into tongue speaking have been very helpful to me).

BUT, when we elevate without discrimination Christ-as-example at the expense of other aspects of atonement, we run the risk of placing ourselves under the rubric of that which he came to fulfill; i.e., the Jewish Law. Yes, he commanded his disciples to teach us to obey everything that he commanded. But if we do an end-around the apostles in interpreting what that meant and entailed, we have not allowed them to be our teachers. In other words we must look to their interpretation of Christ's commandments and sit under their their tutelage if we are to adequately interpret Christ's ministry and obey his commandments. Or his example is destined to become our stumbling stone.

We all believe in the age-old hermeneutic rule of allowing clear passages to interpret the more obscure ones. And to varying degrees we are successful in doing this. HOWEVER, at many points we diverge on doctrinal and theological issues (take, e.g., the many denominations who have divided on such issues, Calvinist denominations over against Arminian denominations probably being the most prominent). Why is this? Because we hold to different passages as the "clear" passages and interpret other "less clear" passages from that rubric.

All of this to say that I am no different. I look to Romans 5.15-19 as the clear passage and make it the model for interpreting other passages, starting with passages which speak to "all," whether humanity or things, and then move out to interpret what I consider obscure passages which could seem to limit that all to only some.

In 5.15-19 we see Christ, the second man, representing the entirety of those who were represented by his type (v 14), Adam, the first man. In this contrast, Christ undoes the condemnation of the all brought onto the all by Adam. Everything accomplished by Christ in that undoing is effective for all humanity, just as everything accomplished by Adam was effective for the same all (see my blog entry on Rom 5.15-19 for a further commentary on this passage).

In this regard, salvation is made contingent neither upon faith nor obedience by and to the example of Christ. Christ does it all. With this as our rubric, his commands are participatory in nature but not effectual ~ just as faith, repentance, confession, and baptism are participatory and non-effectual. They are our response to Christ's completed work. They do not activate it, nor do they sustain it. We must allow the indicatives of who we are IN Christ to precede and interpret the imperatives (commandments) of Christ and the apostles. Or we place ourselves under Law and not Grace.

There is much more to say on this topic. In your post to me you raised a page full of questions which if all answered would take a book and not a one post response. If you want to know me and what I believe, I will gladly continue to lay this out. If all you want to do is contest me then we're not going to get very far, because all we'll be doing is employing our "clear" passages to override the "obscure" passages of the other.

It's your call.

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Perhaps what you missed is the dialectic in Barth's theology, Torrance's too for that matter. Atonement is not just sufficient for all and efficacious for some (by faith); it is complete, effective, and universal in scope. Nothing can separate humanity ~ via our inclusive election in Christ ~ from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. This is the "objective" pole of salvation. The "subjective" pole is the active response of believers by way of faith participation in and through Jesus Christ.

The question of course regards those who hang in the balance, they being three groups: those who are incapable of "belief" ~ infants, etc; those who have not heard the true Gospel message, thus having had no opportunity to respond; and those who have heard, do understand, and still reject Jesus Christ. This latter group are likely destined to face the second death alone. The former group are raised from the dead safely in the arms of Jesus. The group in the middle are those with whom we seek to reach with the Good News of Jesus Christ. Because it is truly good news and the power of God into (eis) salvation, they are likely to believe and benefit immediately from the surety of Christ's Spirit in them, the sanctifying hope of glory.

The dialectic is the tension between the two poles. Where do we concentrate our preaching/teaching: on the Good News of humanity's full and effective inclusion in Christ's atoning work or on humanity's call to participate in it by faith? Barth thought the former; Torrance the same. In no respect does faith "activate" salvation. "Therefore repent and believe in Christ" comes at the end of Gospel, in full awareness of their inclusion in it, and not set as a condition upon receiving it. Those who believe receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, the surety of their salvation. Those who don't, we leave to the righteous, just, and merciful (all contained within the meaning of one word in Hebrew) judgment of God in Christ. It is not our call to make; hence the tension.

From my take on your understanding of Hunsinger, you may have missed the efficacy of the objective pole ~ that all truly does mean all ~ thus (still) throwing the entire weight of salvation on the backs of respondents, that being their obligation to believe in order to receive. Or from the other Federal Calvinist side, making God the bad guy for electing only some to salvation (I know, I know; it's really our fault).


The problem with ALL compteing views of Atonement is that no one understands Hamartiology; particularly singular/plural and articular/anarthrous hamartia relative to hamartano and hamartema.

The key is the noun constructs in conjunction with an intimate understanding of Paul's ontological Gospel, entrusted to him by God.

Universal Atonement is based upon an erroneous understanding of the noun contstructs for hamartia, conflating them and hamartano.

But Limited Atonement on any Lapsarian scale is also fallacious; so this is yet another among the endless artificial binaries that have divided the Church through false dichotomies.

Jesus Christ was made (poieo) singular ANARTHROUS hamartia. I've never yet met anyone who actually knows the explicit depth of what that means; so we get dialectic postulates as an artificial binary of opposed extremes.



TOL Subscriber
We're good.

I don't think it is unreasonable to think this. They may very well have done so. I'll get to why below.

Correct. As to why Jesus was able to withstand Satan's temptations, I believe the reasons are multifaceted. Jesus had the Holy Spirit upon him to guide him into truth. He had in-depth knowledge of the Scriptures to rebut Satan's deceptive claims. And most importantly, he had communed with his Father his entire life (and from eternity past) and knew him intimately. His desire was to please him and to do his will. In doing his will, he broke through Satan's schemes and in so doing won the day.

Let's proceed.

Yes, I would say so. This gets me to my above point: I think there is an assumption that Adam and Woman would not have gained knowledge of good and evil had they not eaten of the tree of knowledge of the same. I do not agree with this. Had they refrained from eating of the tree and communed with God instead, they would have learned of evil from the vantage point of goodness: God's goodness. They would have learned to look upon evil through his eyes. The longer they communed, the greater would have grown their ability and desire to resist evil and flee from it. Yes, they would likely have had the angels administering to them in recovery of Satan's wiles.

As it was, however, in disobedience to God, when they ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they immediately became aware of God's goodness from the vantage point of evil. What did that goodness produce? Shame, which likely produced fear and feelings of guilt, among other derivatives.

Humanity has functioned from that evil side of knowledge ever since. Rather than commune in God's goodness and look upon evil through his eyes, we are prone to traffic in evil and look away from the goodness of God in shame.

Arsenios, I haven't forgotten your post. I will try to get to it as time permits.


This (the bolded, and more) is absolutely true. Da'ath is knowledge derived from the physical senses; so the tree of the knowledge of good (tov) and evil (ra'a) was acquisition of knowledge via sensory experience, whereas the tree of life was communion with God as spiritual intuitive knowledge.