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Two Good Posts on the Atonement

January 5, 2009

1) Kevin Williams has posted a sermon as well as a brief note about it, here:

Williams’ sermon is very good. He covers all the significant areas relevant to the debate concerning the extent of the atonement, but from the perspective of a pastor and preacher (as opposed to that of the internet cowboy-apologist).

Williams’ sermon is vulnerable at some points from counter-arguments, but I do not believe any counter-argument damages Williams’ overall position at any critical point.

His definitions are interesting. Some, who may be good candidates for our label uber-Calvinists, are described as nose-bleeders. This was funny, but may detract from the overall value of his sermon. For sure, this is always a possibility when one uses some satire to lighten up a serious moment.

He elaborates on John 3:16, and here is where some rejoinder could be made I am sure.

He speaks to the famous, albeit fallacious, double-payment dilemma tabled by John Owen. Here Williams could expand further on what it means to be a “child of wrath” as some highs and hypers claim it simply refers to our once being angry children, etc.

He also makes the good point that if there was just 1 verse seeming to support an unlimited aspect to the expiation, then the claims by high Calvinists might have warrant. However, given that there are so many, the rationalizations just will not work. And so Williams draws attention to the language games the high Calvinist must use when addressing the unsaved with respect to the work of Christ.

Not to use Williams own words, but it struck me that Kevin was essentially pointing out the common sense nature of the case for an unlimited aspect to the expiation and redemption, while pointing to the Scripture-contortions the highs must impose upon Scripture to make their point. I am always amazed how these attempts to contort what is obviously common sense is passed off as “exegesis” and how its been allowed to get away with it. Obviously the logic of the false-dilemma fallacy drives high Calvinist exegesis for the greater part.

2) The second interesting post is from Dominic Bnonn Tennant; found here. Dominic is continuing his series on the atonement. Dominic’s strength is his clear and penetrating analysis in the logic of high Calvinism.  What Dominic seeks to do is delineate how, on the terms of the high Calvinist position and assumptions, a sincere offer is not possible. Now some need to be careful here. Some high’s argue that even on any terms of Calvinism, the logic of the free offer is impossible, or that it is equally seemingly impossible. The problem is, we could grant that some other versions of Augustinian-Calvinist thought, even on their terms, still have problematics with regard to the sincerity of the free offer, this in no way validates the problematics entailed by the high Calvinist position. It is not the case that just because an alternative position, B, has its own set of difficulties or tensions, that position A, is correct or more warranted, on those grounds. I think Dominic is doing a good job. 

Dominic’s other strength is his irenic disposition. He likes a good intellectual challenge and sees no reason to engage in ad hominem arguments, nor reason to engage in character assassination. As I read him, he welcomes good and solid intellectual engagement and challenge.


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