The subject of “Limited” or “Definite” Atonement is often the most controversial of the Five Points of Calvinism. The differences between the Calvinist and the Arminian, even on the subject of predestination come into sharpest focus at this point. Even many so-called Calvinists, who agree with us on the doctrine of sovereign, unconditional, double predestination, will disagree violently with us when we teach that Christ did not die for all, but for a “definite” or “limited” number of persons.
When I asked the question last time, “What is the ‘Question Box’?” I was not referring to the “Question Box” that appears in this magazine. Instead, I was thinking about the “Question Box” that appears in the Katy Times. Now you ask, “What is the Katy Times?” The Katy Times is a newspaper found in Texas.
THE CHURCH BETWEEN TEMPLE AND MOSQUE, BY J.H. Bavinck; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1981; 206 pp., $5.95, paper. (Reviewed by Prof. R. D. Decker) Dr. Bavinck occupied the chair of missions at the Free University in Amsterdam from 1939 until his death in 1965. Prior to 1939 he served for twenty years as a missionary in Indonesia. The author wrote an earlier work, Introduction To The Science Of Missions, which this reviewer uses as a text in his Principles of Missions course.
The question, “How can one who holds to the doctrine of limited or definite atonement preach?” has been a vexing problem, not for the one holding to the truth of definite atonement, but for the opponents of that truth. Historic Calvinism, or the Reformed Faith, has always maintained the truth of definite atonement. This truth is zealously preached, taught, and defended by the Protestant Reformed Churches.
Questions have repeatedly been raised, since the time of the Calvin Reformation, whether or not the truth of particular atonement or limited redemption belongs to true Calvinism; whether Calvin himself actually taught this truth; and whether the true line of Calvin’s teachings is to be traced through those who held to this doctrine. There are so-called Four Point Calvinists today who maintain all the well-known five points except the doctrine of particular atonement.
If sovereign, unconditional election disturbs the Arminian, it stands to reason that the Calvinistic doctrine of the atonement will likewise greatly upset him. In fact, anyone who has ever had any dealings with these people will know that there is nothing that so enrages the Arminian as the doctrine of definite atonement. When you tell him that Christ died, not for the whole world, but for a very specific and select group of people, he can hardly contain his wrath.
The sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ upon the cross of Calvary is an atoning sacrifice. This means that this sacrifice is the sacrifice of reconciliation. And this means that this sacrifice of Calvary effected reconciliation. Reconciliation was wrought by the cross of Calvary; it became a fact upon that cross.
At the center of all that God has revealed concerning Himself stands the cross. God has revealed Himself in the Scriptures as the God of salvation. This salvation is all in Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son come in the flesh. And at the heart of it all stands the cross. It is through the cross that God brings salvation.
This is our first special issue of the current volume-year. It is a follow-up on the special issue of May 15, which was devoted to the truth of divine predestination; and it is the second in a projected series on the so-called Five Points of Calvinism, or, as some refer to them, the “doctrines of grace.” You probably have already noted that this issue is devoted to the truth of Limited, or Definite, Atonement.