Three Views on the Extent of the Atonement: A Brief Introduction

Concerning the theological debate on the extent, nature, and purpose(s) of Christ’s atonement, from my own experience I have found that many Christians have misrepresented ideas about what the main views basically propose. I am not about to engage in a theological and/or exegetical discussion on extent of the atonement at this point (nor will I do so in the comments below). But I have decided to craft a simple graph that I hope helps you to become more informed and to more accurately understand the main views, namely, those other than your own.

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A Mark Dever Quotation on Decisive Atonement

On January 28th I posted a youtube video of an excerpt of a sermon by John Piper in which he described the real difference between the Arminian view of atonement (unlimited or universal) and the Calvinistic view of atonement (historically called limited atonement). (Click here to see that post). Yesterday I was reading a book by Mark Dever entitled The Gospel and Personal Evangelism. At one point in the book, Dever makes a statement in passing regarding the the decisiveness of Christ’s atonement which really hits at the crux of this “extent of the atonement” debate. Again, instead of being a debate over universal v. limited extent, the centerpiece of the issue is whether Christ’s death was a potential or effectual atonement.

The apostles clearly learned from Jesus how they were to understand his death on the cross; and to teach Christians about this, the Holy Spirit has inspired various images in the New Testament that convey the reality to us: Jesus as a sacrifice, a redemption, a reconciliation, a legal justification, a military victory, and a propitiation.

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John Piper on “Limited” Atonement

This is a video of what I am assuming is an excerpt from a sermon by John Piper. In this excerpt Piper explains in very understandable language what is in many senses the essential difference between limited atonement (the Calvinistic view) and unlimited/universal atonement (the Arminian view)–two dominant views on the extent of the atonement. He clarifies what, in my opinion, are rather inappropriate terms (limited, unlimited, universal, etc.).
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