One for All, or All for Naught? Limited Atonement

Reposted, with permission, from The Cripplegate.

The next installment of our Reformation Month TULIP series on Calvinism is the big L. If you missed the previous installments – you can see Total Depravity here and Unconditional Election here.

This is the boogieman doctrine of Limited Atonement. What is the debate? The issue is usually phrased this way: “For whom did Christ die, the whole world, or specifically for those who would believe?”

If option A, the whole world, then why are some people in Hell? If option B, only believers, what about the verses that talk about Jesus loving the world? You can see why even some Calvinists disavow this letter, leaving them as diminutive “four-pointers” whose gardens bloom with tu_ips.

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Culinary Calvinism: Considering Jay Adams’ TULIPburger

Jay Adams has a way with words, and an excellent way of explaining the significance of the doctrine of limited atonement in the Reformed view. He describes the T (total depravity) and P (perseverance of the saints) as the bun, holding the burger together, and the U (unconditional election) and the I (irresistible grace) as the lettuce and tomato. But the part that makes the burger a burger is the “meat” of the L (limited atonement).

Adams suggests,

To hold to the fact that Jesus didn’t die for “mankind,” or, as that means, persons in general—but for persons in particular, is essential to having a “Personal Savior … He didn’t die for people in general, but that He knew His sheep, and called them by name, and gave His life for each one of them individually is a blessed truth, not to be omitted from the burger … Jesus didn’t come to make salvation possible—He came to “seek and to save that which was lost… . He didn’t die needlessly for millions who would reject Him. if universal atonement were true, then God could hardly punish men and women for eternity for whom Christ had already suffered the punishment. There is no double jeopardy. And therefore, there is no burger unless it is a TULIPBURGER!

In asserting limited atonement Adams makes four key assertions:

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