Limited Atonement … an elite few?

The fourth installment on Calvinism was presented Wednesday evening at Gospel Light Bible Baptist Church. Brother Scott Allis started out by commenting on the rapid growth of Calvinism in this country. He sees the internet playing a big part in that growth. Naive or inexperienced people, unable to or untrained in rightly dividing the Word, have easy access to religious materials on the internet, including heresies like Calvinism. The appeal of Calvinist and Reformed churches is often their family focused approach, rather than Christ focused; they push Christ aside.

Of the 5 points of Calvinism, Limited Atonement was the topic focused on this evening. Brother Allis said that limited atonement (LA) is “the glue that holds Calvinism and the other 4 points together.” If LA is true, then Calvinism is true. However, if LA can be proven false, then Calvinism falls apart.

What LA means is that the blood of Christ is not for everybody, but just for an elect few. Calvinists go further, reasoning that if the blood of Christ were for everyone, and not everyone is saved, then God has failed. In Calvinism, there is no greater heresy than to suggest that God loved all alike. Jesus’ words in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world”, cannot be true in Calvinism, since they believe God only loved the elect. This elitism often drives people look for other religions.

Brother Allis explained that God did not love Abel over Cain; our merciful God loves all the same. All people are free to chose to believe in Christ since God provide salvation for all. But if people don’t come, God didn’t fail; people have chosen not to do God’s will (e.g. Cain) and have limited what God wanted to do for them. In essence then, LA limits God’s mercy, grace, and sovereignty, ignoring that God bound Himself to His promises to all men.

Within Calvinism itself, a struggle continues over the meaning of the words “world”, “we”, and “whosoever” in the scriptures, Since LA means Christ could not have died for the entire human population, what then do these words refer to? Consider the following verses:

  • 2 Cor 5:19 – “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself”.
  • Matt 10:32-33 – “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
  • Rom 5:11 – “but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement”.
  • John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
  • Isaiah 53:6 – “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
  • John 1:29, “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”
  • Joel 2:32 – “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered.”
  • Acts 2:21 – “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

If LA were true, the majority of the world’s people would be condemned, not by their own sin, but because God chose not to elect them for atonement. The idea is elitist and racist since the “elect” are overwhelmingly white people in America and Europe, and only since the time of Calvin. Brother Allis suggested that those not elected might now have an excuse, saying, “Why Lord not me? Was I so much more rotten than your saint Calvin, who condemned Christians to be burned…”

Harry A. Ironside, Bible preacher and pastor in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, was cited for expressing the common evangelical understanding in contrast to Calvinism’s LA. In his book, Except Ye Repent, Ironside wrote, “Calvin made some stupendous blunders … for which the world has never forgiven him.”

Calvinists do preach salvation to the world, despite believing not all can be saved. However, they will not practice invitations to accept Jesus in their services, believing that only God’s elect are invited. Thus, they cease to be God’s ambassadors. How a Calvinist can explain Romans 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved”, seems beyond reason.

Pastor Vince Giardino concluded with a few comments of his own. He stated that the lack of opposition to hypocrisies such as Calvinism is a characteristic of the Laodicean church. He also said that Calvinism cannot coexist within the church, but will end up harming or splitting a church. They are wolves that prey upon the flock. Paul said in Acts 20:29-30 to the church, “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.”

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