Archive for the ‘OneTrueChurch’ Category

Limited Atonement Defended (Against Albrecht)

June 13, 2009

This is a response to Mr. Albrecht’s video “Limited Atonement, further examined” (link).

Mr. Albrecht has already conceded the main point of the discussion in his video by noting that Limited Atonement is not a heresy. That’s for the best, since the position OneTrueChurch (Glenn) took that Calvinism’s doctrine of Limited Atonement is heresy, is an untenable position.

There are a few other things to clear up, however:

1. Cut-n-Paste – There are Two Kinds

a) Bad – when you cut and paste arguments from Jimmy Akin to try to use them as your own arguments without understanding what Akin was trying to say.

b) Good – when you quote a church father verbatim.

2. The Church Fathers At Issue

a) Theodoret

Whether or not Christ “thirsts for the salvation of all men” is at best tangential to the issue of the extent of the atonement. And I was surprised that Albrecht would be so blatant about telling his listeners to ignore the context – but there you have it!

However, the statement that Christ was not offered to bear the sins of the non-elect is directly relevant, since that’s the claim of limited atonement (though sadly, Albrecht does not understand this).

2. Augustine

Likewise, the statement that Christ did not redeem all humans is directly relevant to the issue of limited atonement, since that’s the claim of limited atonement.

3. Chrysostom

Same as with Theodoret – the question of “bearing the sins of all” is the point that is relevant to Limited Atonement (not the question of why he did not bear the sins of the others).

4. Bede

Bede’s interpretation of the important (to the discussion) text of 1 John 2:1-2 is supportive of the doctrine of the Limited Atonement, which Albrecht would understand if he understood Limited Atonement.


Limited Atonement – Respone to Albrecht

May 26, 2009

Mr. Albrecht has posted a video titled: “the CHURCH FATHERS and LIMITED ATONEMENT-refuting a Reformed View” (formatting is original) (link). This video is a response from Mr. Albrecht to an earlier video I had made responding to the Youtuber “OneTrueChurch”. My video response is below, if one simply scrolls down.

Mr. Albrecht criticizes my video for not providing citations and for being “cut and paste” apologetics. Of course, the text of my discussion was not cut and paste, and I surely hope Mr. Albrecht isn’t suggesting that when I quote the early church fathers I have to avoid using their exact words, cut and paste from their writings.

Mr. Albrecht’s criticism (and consequently my response) is divisible into sections by father:

1. Theodoret

In this discussion, Mr. Albrecht quotes from Jimmy Akin’s “Tiptoe through TULIP” (although he doesn’t cite it). But Albrecht just doesn’t get Akin’s point in the article, “There are other ways to construct a Thomist version of TULIP, of course, but the fact there is even one way demonstrates that a Calvinist would not have to repudiate his understanding of predestination and grace to become Catholic. He simply would have to do greater justice to the teaching of Scripture and would have to refine his understanding of perseverance.” Mr. Albrecht also doesn’t get the Reformed view. Please note that I’m not endorsing or recommending Mr. Akin’s article. I think his attempt to suggest that Calvinism and Roman Catholicism are largely compatible is wrong and is potentially misleading (whether that’s due to deceptive intent or simple ignorance on Mr. Akin’s part, I don’t pretend to know).

Mr. Albrecht fails to realizes that the “sufficient for all, efficient for the elect” position is fully consistent with the Limited Atonement position. It’s even how John Calvin himself interpreted 1 John 2:2, one of the key passages in the limited atonement debate.

Mr. Albrecht also provides a fragmentary quotation from another (essentially unrelated) writing of Theodoret to try to suggest that Theodoret didn’t believe in Limited atonement. It’s such a short work, that I’ve reproduced the whole thing below.

True friendship is strengthened by intercourse, but separation cannot sunder it, for its bonds are strong. This truth might easily be shown by many other examples, but it is enough for us to verify what I say by our own case. Between me and you are indeed many things, mountains, cities, and the sea, yet nothing has destroyed my recollection of your excellency. No sooner do we behold any one arriving from those towns which lie on the coast, than the conversation is turned on Cyprus and on its right worthy governor, and we are delighted to have tidings of your high repute. And lately we have been gratified to an unusual degree at learning the most delightful news of all: for what, most excellent sir, can be more pleasing to us than to see your noble soul illuminated by the light of knowledge? For we think it right that he who is adorned with many kinds of virtue should add to them also its colophon, and we believe that we shall behold what we desire. For your nobility will doubtless eagerly seize the God-given boon, moved thereto by true friends who clearly understand its value, and guided to the bountiful God “Who wills all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth,” netting men by men’s means to salvation, and bringing them that He captures to the ageless life. The fisherman indeed deprives his prey of life, but our Fisher frees all that He takes alive from death’s painful bonds, and therefore “did he show himself upon earth, and conversed with men,” bringing men His life, conveying teaching by means of the visible manhood, and giving to reasonable beings the law of a suitable life and conversation. This law He has confirmed by miracles, and by the death of the flesh has destroyed death. By raising the flesh He has given the promise of resurrection to us all, after giving the resurrection of His own precious body as a worthy pledge of ours. So loved He men even when they hated Him that the mystery of the œconomy fails to obtain credence with some on account of the very bitterness of His sufferings, and it is enough to show the depths of His loving kindness that He is even yet day by day calling to men who do not believe. And He does so not as though He were in need of the service of men,— for of what is the Creator of the universe in want?— but because He thirsts for the salvation of every man. Grasp then, my excellent friend, His gift; sing praises to the Giver, and procure for us a very great and right goodly feast.

Theodoret, Letter 76, To Uranius, Governor of Cyprus

As I explain in the video, the comment “He thirsts for the salvation of every man” – while certainly not phrased in the most precise way, especially given the preceding clarification “He does so not as though He were in need of the service of men,— for of what is the Creator of the universe in want?” but nevertheless, when read in context (something Albrecht fails to do) we see that Theodoret is speaking of the universal command to repent and believe proclaimed by God to all, through the instrumentality (the means) of men, as Theodoret expresses it: “For your nobility will doubtless eagerly seize the God-given boon, moved thereto by true friends who clearly understand its value, and guided to the bountiful God “Who wills all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth,” netting men by men’s means to salvation, and bringing them that He captures to the ageless life.”

2. Jerome

Jerome sometimes uses the expression “whole world” with reference to Jesus’ death so Albrecht assumes this means universal atonement. Unfortunately, Albrecht fails to realize that this can be simply an expansive term, as Prosper of Aquitaine clearly explained about the same time in church history.

Albrecht claims he doesn’t understand how Christ redeeming only some and not all men supports limited atonement. The reason he doesn’t understand, of course, is that he’s not familiar with limited atonement.

3. Augustine

For Augustine, Albrecht just says “same thing.” Talk about cut-and-paste! Only this time he just cuts, and doesn’t paste the same arguments he has taken from the apologetic work of Jimmy Akin in the first section.

4. Chrysostom

Albrecht does not seem to understand what “not bearing” the sins of all has to do with the doctrine of limited atonement. This is, unfortunately, because Mr. Albrecht doesn’t seem fully to understand limited atonement.

5. Bede

Just waves his hands and says he doesn’t even understand how I could “twist” what the Bede says to support limited atonement. Well, at least he’s honest about not understanding on this one.

Albrecht, in conclusion, claims that there are numerous other examples he could bring up. Perhaps, though, he would have done better to first understand the doctrine that he’s attacking and the relation of that doctrine to what the fathers are teaching. There may indeed be some issue (and I will address this at a later time – since the issues involved have little to do with Albrecht’s comments) with the Chrysostom quotation, but the rest are certainly fine.

Albrecht claims: “The early church didn’t believe in the limited atonement in the Calvinist sense or in any sense – if you will – and a clear reading of them in their context will bring that out.” On this as well, Mr. Albrecht missed the point: the point is not that the early church had a single unified voice on the issue of limited atonement. No, the point is that a significant number of important fathers held to limited atonement. Therefore, calling it “heresy” is an irrational claim for folks like “OneTrueChurch” to make, unless he is willing to condemn those of the church fathers who taught it, together with the Calvinists.


Limited Atonement – Response to OneTrueChurch

May 13, 2009

In the following video, I respond to a video from “OneTrueChurch” on the topic of Calvinism and Limited Atonement (link). OneTrueChurch calls (in the title of his video) Calvinism a “Heresy” although he does not explain why he thinks that, and picks on Limited Atonement as key to the whole issue of Calvinism (much to the chagrin of my Amyraldian listeners and readers, no doubt).

Jerome (347-420) on Matthew 20:28: He does not say that he gave his life for all, but for many, that is, for all those who would believe.

Hilary of Arles (401-449) commenting on 1 John 2:2: When John says that Christ died for the sins of the “whole world,” what he means is that he died for the whole church.

Augustine (354-430): Hence things that are lawful are not all good, but everything unlawful is not good. Just as everyone redeemed by Christ’s blood is a human being, but human beings are not all redeemed by Christ’s blood, so too everything that is unlawful is not good, but things that are not good are not all unlawful. As we learn from the testimony of the apostle, there are some things that are lawful but are not good.

Chrysostom (349-407) on Hebrews 9:28. “So Christ was once offered.”: By whom offered? evidently by Himself. Here he says that He is not Priest only, but Victim also, and what is sacrificed. On this account are [the words] “was offered.” “Was once offered” (he says) “to bear the sins of many.” Why “of many,” and not “of all”? Because not all believed, For He died indeed for all, that is His part: for that death was a counterbalance against the destruction of all men. But He did not bear the sins of all men, because they were not willing.

Theodoret of Cyrrhus (393-466) commenting on Hebrews 9:27-28: As it is appointed for each human being to die once, and the one who accepts death’s decree no longer sins but awaits the examination of what was done in life, so Christ the Lord, after being offered once for us and taking up our sins, will come to us again, with sin no longer in force, that is, with sin no longer occupying a place as far as human beings are concerned. He said himself, remember, when he still had a mortal body, “He committed no sin, nor was guile found in his mouth.” It should be noted, of course, that he bore the sins of many, not of all: not all came to faith, so he removed the sins of the believers only.

Bede (672/673-735) commenting on 1 John 2:1: The Lord intercedes for us not by words but by his dying compassion, because he took upon himself the sins which he was unwilling to condemn his elect for.

Bede (672/673-735) commenting on 1 John 2:2: In his humanity Christ pleads for our sins before the Father, but in his divinity he has propitiated them for us with the Father. Furthermore, he has not done this only for those who were alive at the time of his death, but also for the whole church which is scattered over the full compass of the world, and it will be valid for everyone, from the very first among the elect until the last one who will be born at the end of time. This verse is therefore a rebuke to the Donatists, who thought that the true church was to be found only in Africa. The Lord pleads for the sins of the whole world, because the church which he has bought with his blood exists in every corner of the globe.

After dealing with the patristic evidence, I dealt with a logical critique of some of the objections to limited atonement. One of the objections is that Limited Atonement means that there is no chance for some people to be saved. I noted, however, that if we believe that God knows the future, he already knows who will be saved and who won’t be saved. Even if this is just simple prediction (it is not, of course, but even if it were) then it would be the case that it would be an infallible prediction. There is no chance that if God has foreseen you will be saved that something else will happen and likewise if God has foreseen that you will be lost.

Likewise, if God is said to “want to save everyone” then the question is, why doesn’t he? Cannot God save whom he wants to save by his grace?

We noticed that the only way out of these logical critiques is to blaspheme either the omniscience of God (by suggesting that God doesn’t know the future) or the omnipotence of God (by suggesting that God cannot get what he wants).

We concluded, therefore, that not only is the Calvinistic doctrine of Limited Atonement an historical doctrine of Christianity and the Biblical truth, it is an inescapable matter of logic reasoning from the nature of God himself.


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