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Mohler says Christ died only for the ‘elect’

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  • Mohler says Christ died only for the ‘elect’

    By Bob Allen


    Christ died not as a substitute for all sinners but only for those predestined to believe, a leading Southern Baptist Calvinist said in a weekend podcast explaining the atonement, a Christian doctrine that describes how sinners are reconciled to God.

    “As I understand God’s Word, if Jesus truly died for the sins of all mankind, if even one of those persons ends up in hell, then that would make a mockery of the sufficiency of Christ’s atoning blood on Calvary’s cross,” said a caller to Albert Mohler’s “Ask Anything” weekend edition of his daily news podcast May 3. “Could you help me on this subject, please?”

    Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., said Bible verses like “God so loved the world” in John 3:16 and “for as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive” in I Corinthians 15:22 illustrate that Calvinists and Arminians are not as far apart as many assume.“If you read ‘world’ and ‘all’ to mean that Christ’s saving work is applied to the world and to all within in it on the same basis, then all are saved,” Mohler said, “and that clearly isn’t consistent with Scripture.”

    “Christ’s death has meaning for every single life, but salvation comes to those who are confessing with their lips that Jesus is Lord and believing in their heart that God has raised him from the dead,” he said.

    “Limited atonement” is generally accepted as most the controversial of five points affirmed by Calvinist or Reformed theology. The theological view was advocated by 16th-century theologian John Calvin and emphasizes predestination and downplays human agency in salvation.

    Also called “definite redemption” or “definite atonement,” limited atonement denies that God would send his son to die for everyone with the possibility that none might repent. Rather, it claims that God’s eternal plan was to redeem specific sinners through the atoning work of Christ.

    The traditional counterview, “Arminianism,” popular in Methodist and Freewill Baptist traditions and named for Dutch theologian Jacob Arminius, contends that faith is the product of human free will, and thereby God’s saving grace must be offered equally to everyone.

    Mohler, a leader in the “young, restless and reformed” neo-Calvinism popular in evangelical circles including pockets of the Southern Baptist Convention, said the language of Scripture “goes far beyond” the question of how far the atonement extends.

    “Both Calvinists and Arminians are put in the position, if we are intellectually and biblically honest, of saying we’re going to have to read the word ‘world’ here one way and a different way somewhere else,” Mohler said. “We’re going to have to read the word ‘all’ here one way and the word ‘all’ somewhere else in a different text differently.”

    “So the question of the extent of the atonement is one that I, as one committed to reformed theology, would answer in the terms of the fact that Christ died for those he has redeemed, and would be very clear about that, in terms of particular redemption,” Mohler said.

    “But I would never classify someone who holds to a different understanding of the extent of the atonement, within the context of Christian orthodoxy, as a heresy,” he continued. “In other words, I would gladly preach the gospel alongside those who would argue for a different understanding of the extent of the atonement, or a general atonement, so long as they hold to the belief that salvation comes only to those who confess with their lips that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in their heart that God has raised him from the dead, in other words who come to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

    Mohler said neither Calvinists nor Arminians are universalists.

    “Neither of us believes the ‘all’ means that everybody is going to be saved,” he said. “None of us believes that when we talk about the world we mean that every single person in the world is going to be saved.”

    Mohler said neither actually believes that Christ’s death is of benefit only to the redeemed.

    "Actually all Christians, all biblical and orthodox Christians, believe that the life, the death, the burial, the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ has an effect of some benefit to all people everywhere, if for nothing else than the restraint of sin and the allowance of a period of time for preaching the gospel,” Mohler said.

    “And yet all biblical Christians, regardless of how we may debate the extent of the atonement in terms of a general or a particular redemption, we hold to the fact that salvation comes not to all of those but only to those who come to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

    Some Southern Baptists fear the renewed interest in Calvinism is potentially divisive, particularly in cases where pastoral candidates are less than forthcoming about their views until after they are hired. A blue-ribbon study in 2013 found “points of tension” between the two groups but said it need not divide Southern Baptists in the same way that biblical inerrancy did in the closing decades of the 20th century.

  • #2
    I believe in the SBC it is extremely divisive and is a source on ongoing tension. Seem it always is when Calvinists become predominant in any Christian arena. I know some Christian forums where it alienates those that aren't from those that are, to the point that those that aren't have left. The vitriolic nature of some Calvinists can be outright extreme. Hopefully that doesn't happen here.
    The following article has caused much consternation among SBC members.

    The Five Points That Led Me Out of Calvinism | Part One | SBC Today

    Comment>

    • #3
      Creeds and confessions form a bulwark against the incursion of error by providing a standard of orthodoxy and a test for office-bearers. While "particular" baptist are confronted with "heretical" doctrine concerning soteriology I find it amusing to say the least, that is, Mohler's emphasis on unity rather than doctrinal accuracy and truthfulness pertaining to doctrines of utmost importance. I also find it rather interesting concerning unity of the SBC when it appears to reject the sense of belonging to the one, holy, catholic church.

      As to your article Stan, I found the author Leighton Flowers rather entertaining. First he quotes some historical greats and even modern Reformed Theologians and suggests the reader imagine them falling away and then compares himself to such men. He then introduces his doctrine, and asks whether anyone could teach his perspective? I think, Church History is a worthwhile study. There are great arguments and debates having taken place throughout the history of the church, in so, we may understand the errors brought to light through creeds and confessions or resulting canons. Whether Leighton Flowers will make it amongst the list of great arguments only time will tell. When Scripture substantiates the doctrine, we are saved some 2000 years of repeating error. In contrast we should be continuing steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and not falling back to error which ultimately will become even more divisive.

      On Mohler's point of emphasis:

      Neither Calvinists nor Arminians are universalists.
      I wish everybody would learn and understand this. It would save much time and energy having not to answer to such baseless accusations.

      God bless,
      William
      Comment>

      • #4
        The point was to show the diametrically opposed ideas within the SBC. If YOU want to deal with the particulars I'm more than willing and able to do so. I'm NOT big on refuting others opinions who aren't here to defend them. As to arguments of the historical past, IMO, they should stay there. Our knowledge and clearer understanding of the scriptures today precludes us from having the same perspectives they did.
        Actually many Arminians are universalists, IF we use the connotation that salvation is for WHOESOEVER WILL.
        Last edited by Stan; 03-26-2015, 05:17 PM.
        Comment>

        • #5
          Granted they are two diametrically opposed doctrines. Calvinism or the 5 Points known as the TULIP are a direct response to the five points of Arminianism. While you may suggest Arminians are universalist, I prefer to use the doctrine as the defining text. The doctrine defines the Arminian and not the other way around, where one could argue because more and more people believe themselves to be a chicken it ends up becoming the "norm". In a classical sense Arminians are not universalists, no more than Baptist that hold to a Calvinist soteriology are Reformed. Reformed Theology encompasses more than one doctrine. Are Arminians pervasively or should I say intrusively a certain denomination? I think not, it is a doctrine of soteriology and not limited to one denomination. I entertain the idea that what you are expressing is a symptom of liberalism which destroys the source text, and even a simple definition. Arminianist are not universalist in the Classical sense.

          Originally posted by Stan View Post
          IF we use the connotation that salvation is for WHOESOEVER WILL.
          I rest my case.

          God bless,
          William
          Comment>

          • #6
            I use the labels to define the two positions, not necessarily that they are card holding members. The fact is I never used Arminian to define myself until some Calvinists told me I was. I don't like labels but for the purpose of discussion, I defer to the labels. The problem with this is that not all Calvinists are 5 point Calvinists. There are 1 to 5 point Calvinists but I have no idea if there are 1 to 5 point Arminians.
            As far as universalists are concerned, again I use the term to convey that salvation is for ALL. It is NOT for a few predetermined people or what many like to refer to as THE ELECT. One is only part of the Elect when they are saved, NOT before. Salvation is only universal in that God loved the world, all people, and that Jesus gave His life for all people and all sin. Let me be clear, I do not believe that everyone will be saved, only that it is available for everyone. Rom 10:9-13 shows how a person is saved. Paul makes it clear in v13.... “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

            I'm not sure what you mean by "I rest my case" about John 3:18?
            Comment>

            • #7
              Well I am certainly not going to stray this far from the Original post as to address each of the doctrines. I will suggest, however, the point I made which you clearly disagreed with. The 5 Points of Calvinism known as the TULIP are the defining doctrine of Calvinist. There are no 1-4 Point Calvinist. More on this subject: RC Sproul on 4 Point Calvinist -Christforums

              As to you're definition of universalism, again, you're not defining it properly. Universalism is the belief that everyone will be saved, and is not simply the offer of salvation to all men.

              God bless,
              William
              Comment>

              • #8
                That's what you want it to be William but pick a name for it, I don't care. You can call it universal atonement or unlimited atonement, the point is that the scriptures show us it is available to ALL of mankind and God wants ALL to be saved. Will that result in ALL being saved. Obviously not as many have died in their sins unbelieving. I just want to avoid some equivocating about what it means.
                To be sure, it does NOT mean some win the big salvation lottery.
                Apparently you have not heard of Amyraldism, or others that claim to be 2 or 3 point Calvinists?
                I'm not trying to define 'universalism', it already is. What I'm trying to do, in spite of your equivocation, is to depict what I believe universal salvation or unlimited atonement is.
                If we can't agree on the vernacular to be used here, then there is no point in discussing something you are always going to try and slide out of.

                Comment>

                • #9
                  That's what you want it to be William but pick a name for it, I don't care. You can call it universal atonement or unlimited atonement, the point is that the scriptures show us it is available to ALL of mankind and God wants ALL to be saved. Will that result in ALL being saved. Obviously not as many have died in their sins unbelieving. I just want to avoid some equivocating about what it means.
                  None of which you listed is Universalism. You suggested wanting to avoid equivocating but you clearly have committed the fallacy of equivalence.

                  I'm not trying to define 'universalism', it already is. What I'm trying to do, in spite of your equivocation, is to depict what I believe universal salvation or unlimited atonement is.
                  But that's not what Mohler says, Molher said, "Calvinists nor Arminians are universalists". I agreed, you seeimingly disagree. Mohler continues, “Neither of us believes the ‘all’ means that everybody is going to be saved,” he said. “None of us believes that when we talk about the world we mean that every single person in the world is going to be saved.”

                  To clarify, Universalism:

                  According to Gotquestions.org:

                  Question: "Is universalism / universal salvation biblical?"

                  Answer: Universalism is the belief that everyone will be saved. There are many people today who hold to universal salvation and believe that all people eventually end up in heaven. Perhaps it is the thought of men and women living a life of eternal torment in hell that causes some to reject the teaching of Scripture on this issue. For some it is an over-emphasis on the love and compassion of God—and the neglect of the righteousness and justice of God—that leads them to believe God will have mercy on every living soul. But the Scriptures do teach that some people will spend eternity in hell.

                  First of all, the Bible is clear that unredeemed men will dwell forever in hell. Jesus’ own words confirm that the time spent in heaven for the redeemed will last as long as that of the unredeemed in hell. Matthew 25:46 says, “Then they [the unsaved] will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” According to this verse, the punishment of the unsaved is just as eternal as the life of the righteous. Some believe that those in hell will eventually cease to exist, but the Lord Himself confirms that it will last forever. Matthew 25:41 and Mark 9:44 describe hell as “eternal fire” and “unquenchable fire.”

                  How does one avoid this unquenchable fire? Many people believe that all roads—all religions and beliefs—lead to heaven, or they consider that God is so full of love and mercy that He will allow all people into heaven. God is certainly full of love and mercy; it was these qualities that led Him to send His Son, Jesus Christ, to earth to die on the cross for us. Jesus Christ is the exclusive door that leads to an eternity in heaven. Acts 4:12 says, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” “There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). In John 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” If we choose to reject God’s Son, we do not meet the requirements for salvation (John 3:16, 18, 36).

                  With verses such as these, it becomes clear that universalism and universal salvation are unbiblical beliefs. Universalism directly contradicts what Scripture teaches. While many people accuse Christians of being intolerant and “exclusive,” it is important to remember that these are the words of Christ Himself. Christians did not develop these ideas on their own; Christians are simply stating what the Lord has already said. People choose to reject the message because they do not want to face up to their sin and admit that they need the Lord to save them. To say that those who reject God’s provision of salvation through His Son will be saved is to belittle the holiness and justice of God and negate the need of Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf.
                  A more appropriate definition of Universalism:

                  Universalism

                  Universalism is the theological view arguing that all persons will ultimately be saved. Some also teach that there is no such thing as a literal hell or eternal punishment. Universalism has been asserted at various times in different contexts throughout the history of the Christian church.

                  Background

                  "Belief in universal salvation is at least as old as Christianity itself and may be associated with early Gnostic teachers. The first clearly universalist writings, however, date from the Greek church fathers, most notably Clement of Alexandria, his student Origen, and Gregory of Nyssa. Of these, the teachings of Origen, who believed that even the devil might eventually be saved, were the most influential. Numerous supporters of final salvation were to be found in the postapostolic church, although it was strongly opposed by Augustine of Hippo. Origen's theology was at length declared heretical at the fifth ecumenical council in 553."

                  Unitarian Universalism

                  "As an organized religious movement, universalism dates from the late 1700s in America, where its early leaders were Hosea Ballou, John Murray, and Elhanan Winchester. As a form of religious liberalism, it has had close contacts with Unitarianism throughout its history. The Universalist Church of America and the American Unitarian Association merged in 1961 to form a single denomination - the Unitarian Universalist Association."

                  Unitarians, denying the Trinity, stressed the unity of God and nature, the humanity of Jesus, and the inherent goodness in humanity. Universalists, by comparison, agreed with the humanity of Jesus but had a strong focus on the concept of universal salvation, and a benevolent God who offers hope to all. Both of these approaches, merged in Unitarian Universalism, are in direct opposition to the trinitarian nature of God and the doctrine of original sin.

                  Universal reconciliation

                  "Universal reconciliation" is the position that all of mankind will ultimately be saved through Christ whether or not faith is professed in him in this life. While most proponents may adhere to many tenets of traditional Christianity, they uniformly claim that God's qualities of love, goodness, and sovereignty require that all people will ultimately be saved and that eternal punishment is a false doctrine. Salvation is not from hell, but from sin. Advocates of this view take verses such as 1 Timothy 2:6 and 1 John 2:2 literally, explaining that Christ took away sins of the "whole" world such that there remains no basis for condemnation. This is also based on the belief that a loving God would not submit any person, regardless of their sins, to everlasting torment, but would instead reform them. This is a belief held by some protestant denominations. An extension of this, called "strong universalism", holds that no person, even the greatest sinner, is sent to Hell, and therefore Hell does not need to exist.

                  Some proponents do believe that there is a physical, literal Hell in existence, but that Hell is only for the reformation of the sinners. Hell, though real, "will be remedial and corrective rather than just punishment for punishment's sake."
                  God bless,
                  William
                  Comment>

                  • #10
                    OK I'll use unlimited atonement then seeing as you seem to refuse to want to cooperate in this matter.

                    Bottom line is Jesus died for ALL men and ALL sin, and that salvation is available to ALL based on that universal redemption.

                    BTW, being equivocal is NOT a fallacy it is a fact that you are continuing to do. Seems you're not really willing to defend your POV, but just make it hard for anyone to pin you down.
                    Comment>

                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Stan View Post
                      Seems you're not really willing to defend your POV, but just make it hard for anyone to pin you down.
                      Mohler talks about a cherry. Stan is over in a corner slicing a lemon. Stan becomes frustrated because he unable to gain traction on lemon juice.

                      God bless,
                      William
                      Comment>

                      • #12
                        making childish reactionary comments instead of substantive contributions doesn't help your position William. Do you want to deal with this or not?
                        Mohler is labeled a putative Calvinistic Don Corleone of the SBC, and even his nomination this year for president, Ronnie Floyd, who was elected as such, is not a Calvinist.
                        It's up to you if you want to personally defend your POV or not. I have no interest in debating Mohler through a proxy.


                        Comment>

                        • #13
                          Hi guys,

                          I hope you won't mind my stepping into the discussion, but I really think there's been a fair amount of misunderstanding here. Stan, I think William was focused more on your use of the word 'universalist' and kept responding regarding that. Though I also don't think he addressed a lot of the specific things you brought up. It kinda seems to me that you both talked right past each other on various points. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, I just noticed various places where there was a fair amount of misunderstanding.

                          Since I hold to the 5 points considered Calvinism, myself, I'd hate the thought of seeming biased or one-sided when stepping into a somewhat heated discussion like this. However, I'd love to discuss the statement about Christ dying for ALL, Stan. Is that something you'd be open to?

                          Would you mind us creating a new thread to discuss that specifically?

                          Greetings in Christ, brothers! :)
                          Last edited by DavidM; 03-27-2015, 02:11 PM.
                          Comment>

                          • #14
                            I agree ugotsta...which is why I tried to define it up front. This is a typical ploy of many who hold to Calvinism. From experience I don't go further in any discussions now unless parameters are well defined in this regard, otherwise it becomes endless equivocation or plain prevarication. I'm not sure how I was talking past William but it's not our first go round as I'm sure he remembers. If it seems I am misunderstanding something, please feel free to bring it up, as I don't think this thread is limited to me and William doing all the posting.
                            Thanks very much for being willing to take on the role of peacemaker, but I am more than at peace, just very blunt in how I deal with any issue on forums.

                            Comment>

                            • #15
                              I have not heard of Mohler and I am not affiliated with the Southern Baptists. When I look at verses of Scripture, I know that there are many different interpretations being taught. I believe the TULIP doctrines. Romans 8:33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. I used to think that Jesus died for everyone. I was taught that if He died for someone and that person ended up in hell, then He failed to save that person. Jesus is not a failure. Mat_1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Joh_6:39 And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.


                              I had to look to Scripture about man's will, it is not free to choose Spiritual things. Why do I say this? The natural or unregenerated (lost) man does not have the Holy Spirit. Romans_8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
                              Joh 15:16-19 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. These things I command you, that ye love one another. If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. The saved (elect) are not of this world.

                              When did this choice made by God come into being. Ephesians 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
                              Eph 1:5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will

                              As to Jesus dying for all men, there are wheat and tares, those that have God as their Father and those whose father is the devil. Joh 8:39 They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham.
                              Joh 8:40 But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham.
                              Joh 8:41 Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.
                              Joh 8:42 Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.
                              Joh 8:43 Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.
                              Joh 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
                              Whose “will” determines conception and birth in the physical realm? The father or the one that is born. It is the same in the Spiritual world. John 17:2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.

                              John 3:16 is limited to “ whosoever believeth” Joh_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.
                              2 Th_3:2 And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith.
                              Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
                              Grace is unmerited, unearned favor from God. God gives a person life and then instills faith in his heart as a free gift. He Sovereignly bestows faith on His elect and He passes them from death to life. Joh_5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Remember those in John 8:43 could not hear, could not understand Jesus' speech.

                              The lost are like a corpse, they cannot hear, cannot see, cannot have faith because they are dead, without the Spirit of God. Eph_2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
                              Eph_2:5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved
                              Col_2:13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
                              Jesus is Life and salvation is of the Lord. Man is born again from above, not by his will. Joh 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
                              Joh 1:13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

                              If all were to be saved, there would have been no need for God to elect or choose. If God had not elected a number that no man can number to be saved, all would go to hell for their sins.
                              Last edited by baa baa; 03-27-2015, 05:53 PM.
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