Douglas Wilson on Limited Atonement problems

Doug Wilson has an insightful blog post where he responds to Randy Alcorn’s reluctance to affirm Limited Atonement. Enjoy.

“It is not often that I get to agree with a 4-point Calvinist about limited atonement, so when I do, I ought to seize the opportunity. Right?

First, check out this statement here.

I believe Alcorn is absolutely right that the plain teaching of Scripture trumps our logical mastications. I also believe he is right that the reasoning of many Calvinistic exegetes on passages like 1 John 2:21 Tim. 2:6Is. 53:6, and 2 Pet. 2:31 seems to set a new standard of special pleading.

Of course you haven’t lived until you see an Arminian preacher sweating over Rom. 8:28-39. But in a similar way, your cup of life has not been lived to the full until you have read A.W. Pink explaining how “God loved the world” means that God actually loved His elect (coupled with the background assumption that the elect are made up of 15-17 people, tops). You see, world means the opposite of what it seems to mean. Our Procrustean theology demands it.

At the same time, I agree with RC Sproul that it is five points or no points. And I am a full five-pointer. And on some days, when I have had some robust hotel coffee, I am a six-and-a-half pointer. What to do?

Not surprisingly, postmillennialism is the answer. Not only does postmillennialism ride to the rescue of the world, it also rides to the rescue of a decrepit, rationalistic Calvinism. Calvinists don’t like to be told that when they are hobbling through the universal texts that they look just like the Arminians hobbling through the sovereignty texts. But they do.

So try this out. The world will be saved. The nations will come to Christ. The families of the earth will turn to the Lord. The earth will be as full of the knowledge of God as the Pacific is wet. Why will all this happen? Because Jesus died so that it would. Jesus died to secure the certainty of it.


Jesus is the savior of the world. He is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He is the propitiation for the sins of the world. There’s more, but you get the drift.

The problem is that Jesus did not die to purchase raffle tickets for everybody. He did not die to give everybody a chance at it, a chance that most will muff. He did not secure options with His blood. Jesus did not die so that anybody could be saved if they chose, but they probably won’t.

Rather, Jesus died to secure salvation, sin-removal, and propitiation for the world. This means that whateverworld means, it is an entity that has been saved, has had its sins cleansed, and has received the blessing of propitiation. This is where the Arminians and four-pointers fail to live up to their own professed standard. They say that they can’t get around Jesus being the propitiation for the sins of the whole world, and then the first thing they do is get around Jesus being the propitiation for the sins of the whole world.

Against this position, Jesus is the propitiation, not could be the propitiation, if you only . . . Against truncated Calvinism, Jesus is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world, not for the sins of some elite Delta Force.

So I don’t want Calvinists to throw away their logic, or as Alcorn put it, their “western” logic. I want them to pick it up. Follow it out farther. No points without five points, yes. And no five points without the sixth point of postmillennialism. This means the starchiest five-point amill guy is in the same logical position as the four-pointers.

So when the knowledge of God fills the earth as the waters cover the sea, we may be content to know that semi-Pelagianism will then be well beneath the waves, in Davy Jones locker. And not until then.””


Wilson’s Post:

Alcorn’s post:


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