Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Part 2 of Dominic Bnonn Tennant's series on the atonement

Dominic shows an ability to think these things through and articulate them clearly. His language is forceful and direct. Here is a paragraph from his article:

Dominic Bnonn Tennant — On the atonement, part 2: the grounds for the universal gospel call
God simply cannot promise to save someone for whom Christ did not die. Such a promise would be empty; insincere; a lie—and it is impossible for God to lie (Hebrews 6:18). Therefore, if the particularist is right, he cannot say to all people without exception, “Be reconciled to God”—because God has not made provision for all people to be reconciled to him. He cannot say to the reprobate sinner, as the ESV Study Bible would have it, “Receive the reconciliation that God has wrought”—for no such reconciliation exists for that sinner. He cannot tell a non-elect man, “Believe and you will be saved”—that is, quite flatly, a lie. He can only say these things to the elect. The moral inability of the reprobate sinner to respond to the call is irrelevant because the reality, the atonement, which would save him does not exist. There is nothing for him to trust. In this way, the universal gospel call is utterly undermined and shown to be without basis under the particularist view. In fact, it is so undermined that the particularist, to avoid misrepresenting God, is forced into the most extreme hyper-Calvinism, and is crippled in his evangelism.

I am particularly interested in the way the gospel is summarized here: "receive the reconciliation that God has wrought." That impresses me as a very succinct summary of the doctrine of faith that Calvin has taught us, and it is quite true that it is incompatible with a strictly particular view of the atonement. There must be a universality in it for it to be universally proclaimed.

I also like the way he analyzes the "sincerity" issue. In order for a gospel proclamation to be sincere, it must be true. If it is not true that Christ has died for every man, then we have no business making any reference to the crucifixion as if it had any reference to the men we speak to ... for it might not. The gospel cannot be a lie to be proclaimed sincerely.

Highly recommended reading.

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