Who Owes Me Three Dollars?

September 10, 2005

I can’t seem to get any of the regular commenters …

Filed under: Uncategorized — ineedsheetmusic @ 5:41 pm

I can’t seem to get any of
the regular commenters to bite on the real question. More on that in a second.

If you are a Jew, then the correct answer is d, Jesus did not pay the price for any sins of anyone. In fact, the whole enterprise of Christ as some kind of a God is entirely discredited by the fact that he was cursed – i.e. hung on a tree outside the camp.

If you are an Arminian, then the correct answer is d, provisionally. That is, on the cross he did not pay the price for my sin but must wait until I play my part in the transaction. Until then, he only made it possible for my sins to be paid for. This view is provocative in that it allows for a scenario that no-one might have been atoned for. Since God doesn’t force anyone to believe, God gambled that some would accept the free offer of salvation. Now we have God as the dependent variable in the equation.

If you are a universalist, then the correct answer is a. He paid the price for all sins of all men. John 12:32 “and I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself” seems to suggest that very thing. What makes this game fun to play is that those who believe in God’s sovereignty WRT salvation have trouble with the passage in 1 Tim 2:1-4 “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” They dodge what appears in this verse to be a defeater of particular or limited atonement (i.e. all people) by saying that this refers to all sorts of people, not just the Jews. That is, Jesus came as not just a Jewish messiah, but the savior of the whole world. Arminians don’t want any of that logic. The fun part is that it must be sorely tempting for the Arminian to defeat the universalist argument in John 12:32 by playing their own “all sorts of people” card. But they can’t.

So was Stalin drawn to Jesus? Pol Pot? McVeigh? (We know he used to be an altar boy in the RC). How about Charles Manson, Michael Moore, Sean Penn?

Maybe the way to put the universalists to bed, esp. WRT John 12:32 is by the “draw” cop out. Draw merely means “woo”. As in “you can woo a horse to water but you can’t make ’em drink”. In other words, Jesus does in fact in some way woo everybody, just as the verse says. The problem is that draw doesn’t mean woo. It means “pull by force”, or “drag” as in Acts 21:30 “Then all the city was stirred up, and the people ran together. They seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple, and at once the gates were shut” or as in James 2:6 “But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court?” Same Greek word here for drag as draw in John 12:32. (A way out of the conundrum caused by this verse is actually very simple. Is it not plausible that Jesus will drag some to belief and drag some to judgment? A solution obviously in line with choosing b.)

What about c, Christ paid for some of the sins of all men? This doesn’t work at all. Unless you are able to envision a heaven with nobody in it. All your sin must be atoned for.

One more scenario. And it causes problems. How about b but where all of the sins of some men includes their sin of unbelief, or even of rejection of Christ. That certainly would be a sin. But b says that this sin is forgiven, atoned for. (Isn’t this how far you have to go to hold to the belief in unconditional election? I guess it must bring irresistible grace into play!)

What starts out as a simple puzzle can disintegrate into absurdity. But the puzzle seemed at the outset to be totally fair and rational. We certainly didn’t overlook any significant permutations.

Is it possible that we shouldn’t expect logic to work in some areas of religion? Is it possible that God doesn’t want us to mess around with his business? I somehow doubt that is true at all. God has invited us to reason together with Him. So we have done a bit of it here.



  1. I don’t think it necessary follows that if Christ died for all the sins of some that that would include the sin of unbelief. The atonement is only one step of the covenant of redemption. We cannot isolate just this portion, since all three members of the Trinity have their role. In eternity past they covenanted with each other to to save the elect.

    The Father chose the elect, the Son died for all of the sins of elect (some men), and the Holy Spirit regenerates those elect. Thus, it would not be possible for Christ to have died for the sin of unbelief. All the elect will eventually be regenerate, which means that they will believe.

    Another way around 1 Tim 2:1-4 to is that God does desire all people to be saved. He also wishes that none should perish 2 Pet 3:9. Yet, how do we reconcile this with the rest of the Bible (1 Pet 2:8-9, Eph 1:4-11 & Rom 9:12-24). We know that some people are destined to go to hell (John 17:12).

    The answer is that God is Sovereign and whatever happens, happpens acording to His plan (Rom 8:28). Yet these passages (1 Tim 2:1-4 and 1 Pet 3:9) are not referring to God’s sovereign or decretive will, they are referring to His moral or preceptive will. His moral or preceptive will is what God wants us to do follow His law, bring glory to His name, etc. However, we do not always do these things as we should. What we do happens according to His sovereign or decretive will.

    Comment by mike s — September 11, 2005 @ 3:10 am

  2. How do we know there are really two wills in God’s mind? Sounds good though! Gets us Calvinists out of a lot of jams!

    Comment by Bruce S — September 11, 2005 @ 4:34 am

  3. We had a whole Hoagies & Stogies Debate about whether God “desires” the salvation of the non-elect.

    To me, it all just boiled down to two senses of the words desire or will (which are sometimes interchanged in scripture). In the strictest sense, since God is omnipotent, and has preordained all, He will have some of us saved, He will have others of us damned, He will have people like Hitler do the stuff they do, He will have us commit our everyday sins, like hating our neighbor.

    But in another sense, we know what is good and bad, right and wrong, and obviously God does not desire for us to do wrong, He does not desire for us to refuse to glorify Him, and He does not desire for us to reject his offer to enjoy him forever.

    Whatever comprises this Self-imposed distance between God’s Will and Desire, I’m sure is very closely related to what we perceive as free will.

    Put that in your pipe and smoke it (but only if it is God’s will)

    Comment by son1 — September 12, 2005 @ 2:52 pm

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