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W.G. Samson on the Invalid Use of the Negative Inference

January 20, 2009

Samson:

They are right, then, who place stress on these declarations; for they are statements of fact. They certainly err who, from these and such like statements, infer that Christ’s Atonement has efficacy only for the redeemed. These are strong statements, indeed: “Christ loved the Church and gave himself for it” ( Eph. v. 25); ” He loved me, and gave himself for me (Gal. ii. 20); but they are not statements which exclude an efficacy that, reaches another end in another class. There are other declarations that assert a positive efficacy, though not a redeeming power, over others than the redeemed. Such are the declarations of Christ and of Paul and of John to this effect. Christ declares (Matt. xx. 28), “The Son of Man came . . to give his life a ransom for many,” which the Apostle Paul makes synonymous with the declaration (I. Tim. ii. 6), “He gave himself a ransom for all.” Again Paul (Heb. ii. 9), “We see Jesus, made a little lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honor, that he, by the grace of God, should taste death for every man.” Yet again, John (I. John ii. 2), “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world;” in which expression the word rendered “world” is, in the Greek, Kosmos,”  or universe. It is impossible to suppose that Paul and John used, without special design, these expressions of an influence exerted by Christ’s Atonement which reaches beyond the redeemed. They are right, indeed, who seek, in the connection of the statements just quoted for proofs that the redemption secured by the Atonement is limited to those who accept it; and yet the form of language chosen by the inspired writers is not by this qualification of the context made of no account in the writer’s design.

G.W. Samson, “The Atonement,” in Baptist Doctrines, ed., Charles A. Jenkens, reprint. (Wisconsin: Baptist Heritage Press, 1989), 497-498. [Italics orginal, underlining mine.]

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