Think Like A Calvinist, Preach Like A Calvinist

Continuing with Chapter XII (“Limited Atonement”) of Loraine Boettner’s The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination:

“It will be seen at once that this doctrine necessarily follows from the doctrine of election. If from eternity God has planned to save one portion of the human race and not another, it seems to be a contradiction to say that His work has equal reference to both portions, or that He sent His Son to die for those whom He had predetermined not to save, as truly as, and in the same sense that He was sent to die for those whom He had chosen for salvation. These two doctrines must stand or fall together. We cannot logically accept one and reject the other. If God has elected some and not others to eternal life, then plainly the primary purpose of Christ’s work was to redeem the elect” (p. 151).

Boettner mentions the phrase “equal reference” in the context of Christ’s atoning work. Boettner is referring to the Arminian pseudo-atonement that teaches an “equal reference” to all men without exception — that is, the Arminian believes that Jesus Christ died for all without exception in the exact same way. This, of course, is an atonement that does not atone, a satisfaction that does not satisfy. This is a false (or pseudo) atonement that finds its ultimate “atoning efficacy” in the self-righteous effort of the sinner. This is called “autosoterism” or an “autosoteric” view of salvation in theological jargon. In plain terms it is called blatant in-your-face self-salvation. In self-salvation the self-savior enjoys crediting his “god” with enabling him to meet “non-meritorious conditions” while believing that his “god” has “graciously condescended” by “graciously” enabling the sinner to put him in his debt (cf. Romans 11:6). This “gracious enabling” and meeting of “non-meritorious conditions” comes in a variety of forms (e.g., Calvinist form, Arminian form, Roman Catholic form, etc.).

The Arminian would say that Christ died in the same sense for Peter (elect) as He did for Judas (non-elect). This is what is meant by equal reference. Boettner is NOT denying that Christ died for Judas. He affirmed elsewhere that “His death had only an incidental reference to others in so far as they are partakers of common grace” (p. 150). So for Boetter this is the “sense” in which he believes that Christ “died for” Judas. According to Boettner Jesus “died for” Judas, but He did not “die for” Judas “as truly as” He died for Peter. What kind of Satanically self-righteous nonsense is that?

If you have the stomach for it, more from Boettner:

“The atonement, therefore, was infinitely meritorious and might have saved every member of the human race had that been God’s plan. It was limited only in the sense that it was intended for, and is applied to, particular persons; namely for those who are actually saved” (p. 151).

Perhaps I was a little hasty (or not) in reaching for the proverbial Tums or Alka-Seltzer. For here Boettner is simply enunciating a common hypothetical “high calvinist” statement that the atonement of Christ “might have saved” Judas (the non-elect) “had that been God’s plan.” They say this in order to emphasize (in their own minds) the infinite value of Christ’s atonement.

“While the value of the atonement was sufficient to save all mankind, it was efficient to save only the elect. It is indifferently well adapted to the salvation of one man to that of another, thus making the salvation of every man objectively possible; yet because of subjective difficulties, arising on account of the sinners own inability either to see or appreciate the things of God, only those are saved who are regenerated and sanctified by the Holy Spirit. The reason why God does not apply this grace to all men has not been fully revealed” (p. 152).

For Boettner this “value,” this “sufficiency” of the atonement “to save all mankind” is seen in the hypothetical phrases “might have saved” and “had that been God’s plan.” Evidently for Boettner an “atonement” that has “only an incidental reference to others [i.e., the non-elect] in so far as they are partakers of common grace” (p. 150) is able to make their salvation “objectively possible.” Really Boettner? Some might say that Boettner talks this way in order that he may “believe like a Calvinist and preach like an Arminian.” But why not just say Boettner speaks as he does so that he may “believe like a Calvinist AND preach like a Calvinist”? The Arminians preach their version of universal atonement and Calvinists like Boettner preach their version of universal atonement. So what substantial difference does it really make? They BOTH are preaching the damnable false gospel of salvation conditioned on the sinner, their verbal variations notwithstanding (cf. Galatians 1:8-9).

Apparently Boettner is baffled concerning the reason why God does not save all men. Like many learned theologians before and after him, Boettner is incapable of understanding exceedingly simple things:

“For He said to Moses, I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will pity whomever I will pity. So, then, it is not of the one willing, nor of the one running, but of the One showing mercy, of God. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, For this very thing I raised you up, so that I might display My power in you, and so that My name might be publicized in all the earth. So, then, to whom He desires, He shows mercy. And to whom He desires, He hardens. You will then say to me, Why does He yet find fault? For who has resisted His will? Yes, rather, O man, who are you answering against God? Shall the thing formed say to the One forming it, Why did You make me like this? Or does not the potter have authority over the clay, out of the one lump to make one vessel to honor, and one to dishonor? But if God, desiring to demonstrate His wrath, and to make His power known, endured in much long-suffering vessels of wrath having been fitted out for destruction, and that He make known the riches of His glory on vessels of mercy which He before prepared for glory, whom He also called, not only us, of Jews, but also out of nations” (Romans 9:15-24).

To reiterate one thing Boettner had said:

“The reason why God does not apply this grace to all men has not been fully revealed” (Loraine Boettner).

Is Romans 9:15-24 a full enough revelation for ya Boettner? God “does not apply this grace to all men” because He desires to demonstrate His wrath by damning some men; and in this desire to damn and not to save the vessels of wrath, the vessels of mercy are made to know the riches of His glory. Next Page (23)

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