Monday, December 28, 2015

John Piper and Rick Warren on the Atonement

"We're closer than I thought we were." (Rick Warren)

In this short video, John Piper and Rick Warren discuss their views of the atonement and in so doing come to the conclusion that they are actually not far off from one another on their understanding of this critical Christian doctrine. This should come as no surprise to those who have followed TETH’s analysis over the years, given that in earlier efforts we have noted that John Piper wholeheartedly endorses Arminian Theologian Millard J. Erickson’s word-for-word description of the atonement as a valid definition of what Piper regards as the doctrine of Limited Atonement; and this in spite of the fact that Erickson’s comments sit directly under the heading of “Universal Atonement” found on page 846 of his Systematic Theology. This is really confusion of the very highest order, but rather than make that point now, let’s listen in on Piper’s discussion with Warren along with my commentary…

Transcript With Commentary

PIPER: The extent of the atonement is the most vexed of the doctrines of Grace. 
WARREN: You and I have talked about this. It’s the one I have the most problem with in the typical TULIP. 
PIPER:  Let me read something you wrote, and there’s two ways to take what you wrote. I could take it in my way, but I doubt if it’s your way. I wonder?  Frankly, I think, I’ve said to various people who stumble over the so-called fourth point, I’ve said if you give me 15 minutes we could agree.”  
Given that the atonement is among the most hotly debated doctrines in all of Christendom, this is not a very promising start to a discussion between a self-professed 5-point Calvinist and an Arminian. With Piper’s opening comments we discover that the doctrine of Limited Atonement, when described in the way that Piper understands it, is a pair of open arms that is vastly more capable of enveloping a larger portion of Christendom than any previous explanation of Limited Atonement has ever embraced. As we will soon see, this is because his self-contradictory explanation of Christ’s atoning work is an unscriptural and illogical attempt at having it both ways. That point becomes clear as we pull together the totality of Piper’s remarks. Let’s keep listening.
PIPER:  But, let’s try it. It won’t take 15 minutes. You said, “If you want to be used by God,” this is page 288, “you must care about what God cares about. What he cares about most is the redemption of the people he made. He wants his lost children found.” 
PIPER: Interesting phrase, “He wants his lost children found.” Which could mean everybody in the planet, or could it could mean John 11:52, where Caiaphas says, “better that one die for the nation” and then John says he was speaking by prophecy, “that he would die that he might gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.” Then you say, “Nothing matters more to God than the cross.” Now, if I were to take that my way and interpret it in light of John 11:52, Christ died to gather into one the children of God scattered around, the sheep that are scattered out there, the elect. And so in that sense the death of Christ has a divine purposefulness. That it really did achieve the faith and the ingathering of the sheep. And I think I could say that. That would be called particular redemption or limited atonement… 
WARREN: Sure. 
PIPER: …without denying that the cross makes possible and purchases a bonafide offer for every person on the planet, 
We should pause here to emphasize two observations from Piper that are of critical importance in assessing his subsequent remarks.

First, Piper makes reference to the cross having a “divine purposefulness” which he describes by stating that it “really did achieve the faith and the ingathering of the sheep.” Second, he goes on to say that “the cross makes possible and purchases a bonafide offer for every person on the planet…” Stated another way, the atonement of Christ actually paid for the sins of the elect, but while it did not pay for the sins of the non elect, it did pay for the ability to offer salvation to them based on the work of Christ which left their sins unpaid for. It is hard to imagine a more convoluted and illogical justification for the well-meant-offer, but this is what Piper believes. The term “bonafide” means “in good faith” which speaks to the sincerity of the offer. But if the offer has no basis in the removal of sins by Christ, then it is most certainly not sincere, whether we call it bonafide, well-meant, or anything else of the sort.

To state the problem in Piper’s scheme very bluntly…

  • If the atonement only purchased FAITH for the elect
  • And FAITH is a requirement for eternal salvation
  • And God is the only possible source of saving faith
  • Then it is impossible to extend an offer of eternal salvation to those for whom God has not purchased faith, because it is well known that God himself has not supplied them with the faith required to take advantage of the offer, nor does he have any plans to ever give them that faith.
Such an offer would be the height of insincerity. If that does not immediately pop out at you, I would ask that you consider the absurdity of offering a certain cure to a known and unassisted quadriplegic provided he will simply come and get it. The idea that someone would regard such an arrangement as a sincere or bonefide offer is absolutely ludicrous, but this is precisely the nature of Piper’s bonafide offer of salvation to all of humanity in the gospel. Let’s keep listening…
PIPER: so that you can look a person right in the face… 
WARREN: Well, we’re closer than I thought we were.

PIPER:  And say… you could even say… And I could quote John Murray on this, he’s vintage reformed, and say, “Christ died for you.” Meaning not that he effectively accomplished your propitiation… 
WARREN: Got it. 
PIPER: …but that he died such that his arms are extended to you saying, “If you will come. If you will come. It’s yours. This is yours.”  
WARREN: Got it. Got it.
Warren seems at once, pleasantly surprised and also eager to get beyond this discussion as quickly as possible. In so doing he appears to be more aware of how this doctrine should be a real source of friction between them than Piper. Listening on…
PIPER:  So I feel like I can talk like the atonement is there beckoning everyone while believing the new… When Jesus said, “This cup is the new covenant, well the new covenant is when he writes the law on my heart, and draws me to himself, and puts the fear of God in me. I think he bought my conversion. Which means he didn’t do that for everybody. So there are designs in the cross that are for his elect, but there are also designs in the cross that are for everybody. So there’s John Piper’s effort to… 
Let’s think about what Piper is saying here. He is affirming that Christ did something covenantal for the elect that he did not do for everybody. He describes those covenantal blessings as writing the law on the heart, drawing to himself, putting the fear of God in to them, and buying their conversion. All these are non-negotiable requirements for eternal salvation in reformed theology. Piper lists these things among the “designs of the cross that are for his elect” but these “designs” are nothing less than the requirements of eternal salvation in Piper’s Calvinistic scheme. In short, Piper is here saying, “Jesus Christ saved his people from their sins, because he provided things for them that he did not provide for all of humanity.” He goes on to mention that God also has “designs in the cross that are for everybody” but whatever else might be made of such designs, it is certain that they do not include the regeneration, faith, or conversion, which Piper also insists are requirements of eternal salvation. And if those things were NOT supplied for all men, then salvation cannot be sincerely offered to all men, neither is salvation possible for all men.

There are some who would object to this observation by saying, “Well, God knows that man can’t keep the law, but he demands that we obey him nonetheless?  How is this any different?” It’s different in one very important way. If God extended law keeping to fallen humanity as a bonefide and sincerely offered means of acquiring eternal salvation then his offer would most certainly be insincere, because it would be extended with full knowledge that man lacks the capacity of conforming to that standard. The law was NEVER given to save us, but to be our schoolmaster to lead us to Christ, who is our savior.

Some will say, “But didn’t Jesus say things like “If thou will enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:17) in answer to the question, “What good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” (v16) He most certainly did, but the Lord’s statement is only properly understood in light of man’s abject inability to keep the law and the law’s ability to demonstrate to a spiritual man that he stands in need of the mercy of God. Jesus’ words design two very important teachings: the first is that the only proper response to, “Keep the law and you’ll gain eternal life,” is to say, “I haven’t done that and I can’t do that. God have mercy on me a sinner!” And the second is to point out that because God’s perfect standard of righteousness never changes, the only way a man will ever measure up to this standard is through imputation whereby God’s people’s sins are placed upon Christ and they are clothed in His perfect righteousness. (II Corinthians 5:21) That is a critically important observation required to understand the Lord’s statements, lest we find ourselves suggesting that Jesus taught a works-based scheme of salvation, which both he and his apostles and prophets clearly did not. (Romans 11:6, Matthew 19:26).  Warren responds with…
WARREN: Well, we’re closer than I thought we were. Because I do believe… again, this goes back to my hermeneutic of - when I have two different passages, I believe them both. 
This is an incredibly loaded statement, IMO, and I hear evangelicals of all stripes invoking this language quite a bit. In all candor, I know of very few Christians who just blatantly don’t believe some scriptures. That is an extremely crass misrepresentation that is frequently hurled at the opposing camp but is usually not true. It is most often accompanied by an anecdote of some deluded member of that camp who kept a pair of scissors in their bible so that they could cut out the verses they find objectionable. This “I believe them both,” is a loaded statement because it subtly implies that those who disagree with me are guilty of an out and out denial of one or more truths in the bible.  It is essentially saying, “I believe them both, whereas other people do not.”

Moreover, it has been my observation that the statement, “When I have two different passages, I believe them both,” actually means, “The truth of the word of God is found in embracing contradictions. And those who attempt to reconcile contradictions are claiming they are smarter than God whose truth is fundamentally contradictory.” Preachers who promote contradictions as biblical truth use such language as an opening salvo to ward off attacks upon the irrational theological position they intend to subsequently promote. This is done to establish that any attempt to dismantle their assertions via logic is a denial of one or more biblical truths. In essence they are saying, “I’m going to explain this rationally unexplainable truth to you, and those who oppose my reasoning are foolish to do so since my ‘rationale’ is admittedly NOT based upon reason.” Those who provide reasons for their beliefs and who deny reasonable inquiry into them, are not actually employing biblical reason at all – they are making unreasonable fiat declarations of truth and insisting that others conform to them.

By making reference to “believing both” scriptures, Warren is appealing to a Christian’s noble desire to have a high regard for the bible by implying that the only way to handle contradictions is to embrace them. Stated very plainly, he is promoting the idea that “wrong division” is “right division” by suggesting that as long as we understand the bible line upon line, we do not have to reconcile it precept upon precept. This is an incredibly prevalent and cancerous error that completely undermines the concept of reasoning from the scriptures, though the peddler’s of modern mystical evangelicalism are loath to admit it. Let’s see what else Warren has to say about his hermeneutic…
WARREN: I believe Ephesians 5: Christ died for the church and gave his life for her. I believe that with all my heart. I also believe Peter, “God is not willing that any should perish.” I think he wants people to be saved. And I believe in John 3:16. So, when you say, “Who does Christ die for?” He died for the church.  
I won’t address the bogus interpretation of II Peter 3:9 implied by Warren’s brief statement (see Office Theology 109 on my YouTube Channel) but I will take a moment to analyze the paradox he raises. Warren admits that Christ died for the church, a subset of humanity, while also stating that Christ wants all people to be saved. If the death of Christ on someone’s behalf is the only basis upon which any man will ever be eternally saved, and if Christ himself DID NOT choose to die for some men, how on earth can it be said that he also has a sincere desire that they be saved? Is Christ under the deluded notion that there is any possibility for them to be saved apart from his purposing to do so? Doesn’t Jesus Christ realize that the eternal salvation that He desires for them is resting entirely upon Him alone? If a man is drowning and there is another man standing on the shore who has the power and the opportunity to save that man but he chooses not to – would anyone regard that man as having sincerely desired the salvation of his fellow man? To press this view upon Christ is to accuse God of folly, and it should be rejected on this basis alone. The moment we posit a God who desires the salvation of those he does not save, we have invented a God that is a bipolar head-case, whose promises and purposes are uncertain. In so doing we call into question the comfort that might be found in a covenant making and covenant keeping God who does, “according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?” (Daniel 4:35)

So again, Warren’s position is that biblical truth is contradictory and that such contradictions must be embraced rather than reconciled, irrespective of their screeching, discordant timbre. This increasingly prevalent hermeneutic does an enormous disservice to our understanding.
WARREN: Ok. I don’t think God’s death on the cross through Christ was a failure; if you’re saying that. I do not believe that anybody he intended to die for is failing in that area.  
PIPER: Is going to hell 
WARREN: Absolutely not. No. 
Well, I suppose he has to say that. Indeed what Christian minister wants to stand up and say, “My view of the atonement is that Jesus Christ is a failure.” But the notion of failure is unalterably embedded in his assertions, irrespective of his willingness to own it. The fact remains: if Jesus Christ died with the desire to save all of humanity, as Warren previously affirmed, and yet not all of humanity are saved, how is this not a failure? Is it not failure to accomplish that which the Lord desired? Undeniably so.

The truth is both Piper and Warren do some seriously illogical fence straddling on this pointy issue of the atonement. Those who straddle picket fences should mind their steps lest they be sawn asunder in their folly. Then again if one’s paradox-adoring hermeneutic is sufficient to numb the pain of contradiction, perhaps God’s people can press-on, blissfully unaware that we are impaled on our own assertions.
WARREN: But on the other hand I don’t believe in universalism either. That His salvation automatically assumes everybody’s automatically gonna be there which some people have interpreted the Roman’s passage of “as in Adam all died, In Christ all should be made…” I don’t interpret that in a universalist way. I like the way you say it, John. I’d like to hear more about it. 
PIPER: Well, we’ll talk again.  
Well, from what I’ve heard here there’s not much difference at all between Piper and Warren. Both embrace a form of contradictory both-and-ism regarding the atonement in order that they may both arrive at the religion of Well-Meant-Offerism.

The primary observation that I would glean from this conversation is that both Piper and Warren are equally unstable on the doctrine of the atonement. Both men promote logically contradictory positions as the rightly divided truth of the word of God and in so doing they do an enormous disservice to a Christian disciple’s understanding of the covenantal salvation by sovereign grace taught in the word of God. For Warren, who makes no claim of preaching “Calvinism” or “sovereign grace,” this observation is at least more consistent with the beliefs of his theological camp. But for Piper, who many regard as a stalwart of sovereign grace theology, this observation is far more problematic. What Piper is promoting as a legitimate view of Limited Atonement is just flatly wrong. It is really just a convoluted form of Arminianism. Piper provides more detail on his beliefs in his sermon entitled The Whole Glory of God.
So, Piper. Just be simple. Do you believe Jesus died for all people? Just give us a straight out answer. And I’m not gonna play politics, I’m not gonna answer another question, but I am gonna do this before I answer it. I’m gonna force you to define 'for all people.'  I’m gonna say, 'Now just tell me exactly what you mean, and I’ll answer you, cause I don’t want to answer in a way that would cause you to misunderstand. What do you mean by for all people?' Now I think I know what most - is it OK if I use the word Arminians? - just most people who are having a hard time - they’re not all Arminians - having a hard time, with limited atonement. That is, the atonement which effects something special for a limited group. I think I know what they all mean, and I’m going to quote Millard Erikson’s theology because I think he’s right. (The Whole Glory of God, John Piper, starting at 18:12)  
I will pause here to note that the Millard J Erickson quote that Piper is about to endorse as a valid and unqualified description of His own view of the atonement is found under the heading of “Universal Atonement” in Erickson’s Systematic Theology. Let’s listen….
He says, ‘God intended the atonement to make salvation possible for all persons.’ (Piper)
Is this the teaching of Limited Atonement? The teaching that the atonement made salvation possible for all persons? That is the core teaching of Universal Atonement, not Limited Atonement, and it is not within a thousand light years of what is intended by Limited Atonement. That 5-Point-Calvinist-Stalwart-Piper would endorse Erickson’s statement that the atonement made salvation possible for all persons is incredible, absolutely incredible. That those who claim to believe in salvation by sovereign grace would accept this testimony, even more so. Their willingness to embrace Piper’s gross misrepresentation is incredibly revealing, IMO, either of their complete lack of discernment with respect to the doctrines of grace they claim to promote, or of their lack of regard  for promoting a proper understanding of the atonement of Christ. The listener may decide which is more applicable. Continuing on…
'Christ died for all persons, but this atoning death becomes effective only when accepted by the individual. This is the view of all Arminians.’ Closed quote. (Piper)
Stated another way - Jesus’s Christ’s death did not accomplish anything, until man ratifies it by believing that it is so. Is this salvation by sovereign grace? This is salvation by man’s ratification of grace.
If that is the view of all Arminians, I totally agree with it. No qualifications. (Piper)
Well, there you have it. No qualifications. Plainly stated – anyone who states that the atonement made salvation possible for all men is teaching Universal Atonement. Period. End of story. They may call this belief “Calvinism” or “Reformed” or “like John Murray” or “Limited Atonement” or “Sovereign Grace” or anything else, but the statement that Jesus Christ died to make salvation possible for all men is the very definition of Universal Atonement and the heart and soul of Arminianism. While I disagree with Millard Erickson’s theology, I can at least respect his candor in representing what he believes and promoting it under the proper moniker of Universal Atonement. As for Piper, his awkward efforts to commandeer Erickson’s definition of Universal Atonement as a proper but incomplete definition of Limited Atonement is difficult to watch. It is an embarrassing expose of the addled thinking which undergirds his unstable theology. Piper goes on to say…
So if you say, ‘Did Christ die for all people?’ And I say, ‘What do you mean for all people?’ And you answer, ‘I mean, did he die in such a way so that anybody anywhere who believes will be saved by that blood.’ I say, ‘Absolutely, he did.’ That’s John 3:16 pure and simple. In such a way that whoever believes will not perish – I believe that totally without qualification.  (Piper)
Well, here Piper is wading into the perilous waters of his paradox. On the one hand he defines, “Christ died for all people,” as, “God intended the atonement to make salvation possible for all persons.” On the other hand, he defines, “Christ died for all people,” as, “anyone, anywhere who believes will be saved by that blood.” But in this second definition “all people” cannot possibly constitute “all persons” as in “all of humanity” given that he goes on to reveal that Jesus Christ only purchased “faith and repentance and conversation” for the elect, not for all of humanity. If this is true, and it undeniably is, then it is most certainly NOT true that, “God intended the atonement to make salvation possible for all persons” because apart from the provision of “faith and repentance and conversion” salvation is NOT POSSIBLE in Piper’s Calvinism. The magnitude of Piper’s illogic is colossal. It is an unfavorable commentary on the discernment of the average professing evangelical Calvinist who would endorse Piper’s view, IMO. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Listening on…
Every individual person on planet earth who believes in Jesus has their life covered by the blood of Jesus. (clapping) So you preach that. You stand up on Sunday morning and you say, Christ died in such a way so that anyone in this room who believes, your sins are covered by the blood of Jesus. (Piper)
Arminians and Calvinists never debate whether or not Jesus Christ died for someone who believes. At a minimum I can say I have never encountered this discussion. I believe that essentially all Christians would affirm that Jesus Christ died for those who believe on him. That, however, is not the question. The question is “Did Jesus Christ die to make salvation possible for all persons?” Those who say that he did are those who believe in Universal Atonement, plain and simple. Those who deny it believe in Limited Atonement. Those who affirm it and also insist that Christ provided “faith and repentance and conversion” for the elect only are Christian Irrationalists who peddle logical contradictions as gospel truth.
And there’s no massage of language there or anything. If you want to say, Christ died for all of you, just be sure that you eventually, some time in your teaching program, explain what you mean. Because, they’re going to take you to mean perhaps some things you don’t. (Piper)
So let me get this straight – It’s OK to say “Christ died for all of you” which means that “the atonement of Christ made salvation possible for all people,” provided at some later date you make it clear that what you mean by “Christ died for all of you” is that His death did not provide “faith and repentance and conversion” for all people, apart from which you cannot be eternally saved. With this teaching Piper has erected an epic monument to the irrational nonsense taught in most Churches, that gives valid cause for scoffers to point out such folly. One wonders how many people remain distant from the church as a result of the ridiculous nature of the doctrine that so many Christians regard as “gospel truth.”  I believe that there are those among the regenerate sheep who remain estranged from the Lord’s house because their spiritual discernment will not allow them to stomach the gross portions of such nonsense that are served up on a weekly basis.  
But if all they take you to mean is, Christ died in such a way so that a bonefide offer of the gospel in salvation could be made to every person, face to face on the street, saying if you will believe the blood of Jesus covers your sin, that’s true. (Piper) 
So Jesus did not provide “faith and repentance and conversion” to all men, though all men naturally lack these things, and though they are undeniable requirements of eternal salvation in Piper’s Calvinism, but we can, nonetheless tell them in sincerity that if they will bring forth the trifecta of faith, repentance, and conversion, which they do not possess, they will be saved? Yikes!

Would you regard the statement, “If you give me ten dollars, I will give you eternal life,” as a sincere, bonafide offer of eternal life if the statement is made to a man who is known to have absolutely no money and no means of ever acquiring money? This is the very height of insincerity, because if you know that the person cannot possibly meet the conditions, then you know that the offer is incapable of producing the promised result.
And then I simply say, Calvinists believe more than that; not less. They believe that, they affirm everything the Arminian says about the availability of the blood of Christ for all who will believe. And then they say, and he did more than that, (Piper) 
And here’s where Piper really jumps the shark
…namely, he has in view a people that he has chosen from the foundation of the world and he purchased in this dowry their faith and repentance and conversion and their NC closure with Christ. (Piper) 
So there it is. Initially Piper affirmed Erickson’s statement that “God intended the atonement to make salvation possible for all persons” but now he admits that this atonement did not purchase “faith and repentance and conversion” for all persons.  Piper’s zealous affirmations wrap him up in wild-eyed contradictions. Plainly stated, if Christ’s death did not provide “faith and repentance and conversion” for all people, and “faith and repentance and conversion” are requirements for eternal salvation in Piper’s Calvinism, then it is readily evident that the atonement did not make salvation possible for all persons. The logic of that observation is just relentless. I believe the discerning disciple does well to free themselves from the Piper’s grip via a sudden and skillfully executed Rex Kwon Do maneuver. Break the wrist. Walk away…
He will get a people for himself. That’s not less than the Arminian believes, that’s more. In other words, Christ doesn’t just go around in general relating to women – he gets a wife. And he pays for her and he loves his wife differently than he loves the world. (Piper)
I am baffled as to how Piper believes this example helps his cause. Piper’s observation makes it clear that God’s saving accomplishment in the atonement is utterly particular in nature. Pondering this curious assertion I can’t help but think: I have a wife. I chose her particularly. I love her particularly. While I have never broached the subject with her, I feel certain that were I to inform her that I was issuing “well-meant-offers of marriage” to the rest of humanity she would be diligent to inform me that such offers are contrary to the design and purpose of the marriage covenant, in all likelihood while feeding me my hat. I believe it best that we speak no more of it.
I just find it mind boggling that some people have a view of the cross that actually says to people, it can mean no more for you than it means for people in hell.  He didn’t do anything special for you, that he didn’t do for the person in hell.  That is so gospel destroying, so cross gutting. (Piper)
Well I certainly agree that that statement, but Piper, at the beginning of this diatribe you said that you agree with the statement that, “God intended the atonement to make salvation possible for all persons.” Now you say that the atonement did something “more” and something “special” for the elect that he did not do for those who end up in hell.  That’s exactly right, HE SAVED THEM. What’s more he did NOT save the others, neither did he purchase “faith and repentance and conversion” for them and thus neither was salvation ever possible for them.
The whole New Covenant collapses under that kind of teaching. Because it leaves absolutely everything on you. If you have the grace to believe, Christ bought that grace. (Piper) 
True enough, but if you don’t have that grace to believe, it is evident that the atonement of Christ did not supply it for you, and if the atonement of Christ did not supply “faith and repentance and conversion” for you then it is undeniable that it did not make eternal salvation possible for you in Piper’s theology, irrespective of his hyper-emotive claims to the contrary.
And you should give him glory for it, and give the cross credit for it.  So glory with your people again in Romans 8:32… (Piper)
And of course, Romans 8:31-39 is perhaps the strongest passage in the bible in affirming the absolute efficacy of the blood of Christ on behalf of his chosen people. In affirming that truth it likewise makes it absolutely certain that Jesus Christ did not die to make salvation possible for all of humanity. Those two ideas are as far removed from one another as the east is from the west, and ne’re the twain shall meet.
[Audience responding with questions and comments, teth] I wish there was a Q and A after that so that people who are still confused about that could ask me because that has been so liberating for me, I just want you to get that, that limited atonement thing – that’s not a good word, definite atonement, covenant effectiveness, get another word, limited atonement just gets us in trouble. I just want all of you Calvinists from now on to say Calvinists don’t believe less about the death of Jesus we believe more. (Piper)
This whole “limited atonement is not a good word” routine has become the calling card for modern Calvinists. They all seem to think that making this proclamation makes them appear to be erudite with respect to their “highly nuanced view of the atonement” – in all likelihood because they have heard virtually every popular Calvinist minister repeatedly parrot this statement ad nauseum for decades. None of them, however, seem to possess the discernment required to make note of the fact that there is essentially ZERO theological difference between what is implied by limited atonement, definite atonement, covenant effectiveness, particular redemption. The routine is embarrassing. Limited Atonement is a perfectly accurate phrase. And Calvinists would do well to accept that and instead train their attention toward the clearly contradictory claims that their most popular representatives make regarding their doctrine.
We believe that he made salvation available to all who will believe and the blood is sufficient for all who will believe and everyone who believes is covered by the blood of Jesus, amen, let’s preach that, (Piper)
Brother Piper, everyone believes that Jesus died for those who believe on him, everyone believes that. But earlier in this sermon you affirmed the statement that “God intended the atonement to make salvation possible for all persons” and that you affirm that statement with “no qualifications.” You went on to affirm that Jesus only purchased “faith and repentance and conviction” for the elect – three things that your doctrine requires in order for a man to have eternal salvation. When you bring all of this together, it is abundantly apparent that the atonement of Christ did not provide everything required to make eternal salvation possible for all of humanity.

Brother Piper, I say this with all sincerity, you are promoting a shamefully ridiculous false view of the atonement of Christ that is establishing a great many disciples in error and confusion.
…and then we say, and to all those who do believe, guess what?  Jesus bought your awakening, so that he paid for your coming and your coming cannot be boasted in, it goes like a trophy at the foot of the cross. (Piper) 
Well that’s certainly true, brother Piper. But is also true that there is a logical ramification that attends this truth, namely that because Jesus Christ only purchased “awakening” for his people, that he most certainly did not make eternal salvation possible for all of humanity.


In conclusion, it’s fair to say that Piper’s view of limited atonement is a mess. It affirms Millard Erickson’s definition of universal atonement without qualification and then goes on to affirm the particularity of Christ’s work in such a way as to completely undermine that affirmation. That this issue is not clearly seen by more professing sovereign grace believers is a discouraging sign. In TETH’s opinion, Piper’s notoriety far outstretches his soundness as a theologian. As such he is an unreliable guide for those who are seeking a clear understanding of the mechanics whereby Jesus Christ saved his people from their sins. I do not doubt his sincerity, or his profession of faith, but I believe that God’s people do well to steer clear of his teaching and seek instead to arrive at a right understanding of the truth that is not cocooned in Piper’s embarrassing contradictions.

Stated plainly – when Piper endorses the statement that “God intended the atonement to make salvation possible for all persons,” while insisting that it only provided “faith and repentance and conversion” for the elect, he reveals that his view of the atonement is as mad as a March hare, because those two affirmations flatly contradict each other.

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