The most controversial part of TULIP should be the least controversial

Theologians have come up with a cool, but forever-misunderstood, acronym for the doctrine of salvation:

T- total depravity: all mankind is dead in trespasses and sins

U- unconditional election: God elects sinners to salvation by His free, sovereign will

L- limited atonement: the death of Christ is in the place of those God elects

I- irresistible grace: the Father draws every single one of the elect to Christ

P- perseverance of the saints: every single elect sinner is raised up on the last day with Christ

Every one of these doctrines is controversial. But if I had to pick one, it seems the L is the most controversial. Jesus died in the place of only the elect. Jesus did not die for the sins of every single person, only every single sin of every single Christian. I have held to these doctrines for at least 11 years now and it has never occurred to me why that should be the most controversial.

Every Christian believes that God is all knowing. Even those who might classify themselves as “Arminian” or “non-Calvinist” believe that God is all knowing. Everyone believes that God at least knows who will believe in Jesus. And if that’s true, then why in the world would God put His own Son to death to pay for anyone’s sins but those who would believe in His Son? What did God intend Jesus to pay for? Whose sins did Jesus Himself intend to pay for? Of course it’s His bride. And of course God knows, from before the foundation of the world, what individuals make up His bride. The objections to a limited atonement (which I call an actual atonement) are always more emotional than they are logical or theological.

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3 responses to “The most controversial part of TULIP should be the least controversial

  1. Brother,
    How does this fit with Jesus’ message?

    • Hey Dr. Ware! I certainly did not have you in mind when I thought of emotional arguments. You certainly have great logical, exegetical and theological arguments for everything you believe, as well as historical support. I will not tell you anything you have not heard before, but to answer your question, the first place that comes to mind is John 10, Jesus laying down his life for his sheep, including (presumably) Gentile sheep. I think this all fits with his message of particular love for his people.

      Thanks again for your ministry. Hawaii is still reaping blessings from your short time here.

  2. Thank you for your solid presentation of good reformed baptist theology. May God use you at KBC in extraordinary ways proclaiming truth in love.

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