Calvinism & Limited Atonement
Calvinists believe the Bible. Calvinists share almost all the beliefs of most other Christian
churches. There is one area where Calvinists depart from other Christian religions though.
This area is the L in the acronym that Calvinists use to describe the 5 tenants of their basic
beliefs. Here is the acronym with explanation:
T- Total depravity of man
U- Unconditional Election
L- Limited Atonement
I - Irresistible Grace
P- Perseverance of the Saints
All Christian faiths agree on the T. The total depravity of man is not in dispute. The Bible
also seems clear on Unconditional election. In Romans 9:16 we are told that: "It (salvation)
does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy." Limited
atonement means that Jesus did not die for all men, only for those that would be called by
Before we go further, let me make one thing abundantly clear; my point of contention with
Calvinism is a difference between brothers in Christ. I believe that Calvinists love God,
believe the truth about Jesus and who He is, and in many other ways are no less
Christians, than any other Christians. So as Brothers in Christ, let us examine what God
tells us in scripture.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to
his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of
When the passage says that the iniquity of us all was laid on Christ it is as general as
the beginning phrase "we all like sheep have gone astray". I do not think we would have
disagreement as to whom that part applies; it is all of us. If the beginning refers to all of
us, then the end applies to all of us also.
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
This most well known statement of the gospel tells us that whosoever believes will be saved.
For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to
I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this
bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life
of the world."
Anyone who eats will live forever. His life was given for the world.
consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men,
so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings
life for all men.
This is unambiguous language, His death brought life to all men.
1 Timothy 2:5-6
5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man
Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all men-the testimony given
in its proper time.
Again we are told that Christ gave Himself as a ransom for All men. The next reference
made is maybe the most clearly stated:
1 Timothy 4:9-10
9 This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance 10 (and for this
we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the
Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe.
This distinction between all men and those that believe seems clearly to refer to the
entire population of humankind.
These scriptures seem to say that Christ died for everyone, all men, and the whole
world. Does this contradict the scripture that tells us that it is only those that God calls
that will be saved? Not at all! Lets look at what God wants in this regard:
1 Timothy 2:3-4
3This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all men to
be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
2 Peter 3:9
he Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand
slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish,
but everyone to come to repentance.
So God wants all men to be saved. If He wants all men to be saved, and Christ died for
everyone, then there must be something else that differentiates those who accept
Christ's gift and those that do not accept it.
There is a question that I would like to ask my Calvinist brothers:
Why will every knee bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord? Will those that
are not called from death to life and are simply vessels made to display Gods wrath
bow their knees? Why should they? They are doomed from birth. They were left out
of God's plan of salvation; what is going to motivate them to confess Christ's lordship
as they are heading for eternal torment? I believe it will be the fact that God suffered
and died for them too, but they never accepted Him that will bow those knees and
make those tongues confess His lordship.
Finally, I would like to answer a question that was raised on a Calvinist
web site that I visited:
Q: Did Jesus just die to make us save-able?
A: Christ did not die just to make us save-able. He died to pay for the sins of the
whole world as scripture tells us. He provided salvation enough for everyone, but
the only ones to obtain the salvation that Jesus provided with His precious
sacrifice are the ones that accept Him. As Romans 10:9 says we must confess
with our mouths that Jesus is Lord, and believe in our hearts that God raised him
from the dead and we will be saved.
To Calvinists that read this, God bless you and keep you. To those that agree with the
non-Calvinist arguments made here, please remember it is with Love that we are to
speak the Truth. Let God's word close our discussion:
1 John 2:2
He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours
but also for the sins of the whole world.