Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A.W. Pink, Limited Atonement, and 1 John 2:1&2. Pt. 2

by JM
Here’s a second reason Pink gives for thinking 1 John 2:1-2 conclusively doesn’t teach unlimited atonement (You can refer to the previous post - Sept 7th - for the first reason, as well as a little bit of background involved in this debate). Here’s Pink in his own words:

In the second place, if other passages in the New Testament which speak of "propitiation," be compared with 1 John 2:2, it will be found that it is strictly limited in its scope. For example, in Romans 3:25 we read that God set forth Christ "a propitiation through faith in His blood". If Christ is a propitiation "through faith", then He is not a "propitiation" to those who have no faith! Again, in Hebrews 2:17 we read, "To make propitiation for the sins of the people" (Heb. 2:17, R. V.).
This seems to be Pink’s argument:

(1) Romans 3:25 and Hebrews 2:17 say that God is propitious to those who believe. Conversely put, God is not propitious to those who don’t believe.
(2) 1 John 2:2 says that Jesus is the propitiation for the world.
(3) Yet, not everyone in the world believes.
(4) Therefore, the “world” in 1 John 2:2 does not refer to all people, only the elect.
Pink’s comments assume that propitiation can’t refer to something both objective and subjective. In relation to a person, I believe that the atonement may be an “objective reality” and/or an “appropriated” reality. By “objective reality” I mean that the atonement made by Christ some 2000 years ago is something real apart from my believing it. By “appropriated,” I mean that this objective reality has been applied to a subject. For a person who believes and is regenerated on August 5th 2007, the atonement was an unappropriated but objective reality up until conversion. From the point of faith on, it is both an objective and appropriated reality.

My contention is that the first facets always obtains for all people (Christ’s atonement is an objective reality on the behalf of all people), but the second doesn’t (Christ’s atonement is only appropriated to the elect). The failure to make this distinction leads to a puzzling result for Pink’s argument: If God has propitiated all those whom he has elected, then there was never a time the elect were not believers. Or put differently, the elect have always believed. This is unacceptable. Pink has forgotten about the many passages which indicate that our justification occurs when we believe, meaning in part that we were not right with God prior to this declaration. We were genuinely children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3), which means that we had not be propitiated in some way. Finally, Pink has committed a non-sequitur: To show that in Romans 3:25 and Hebrews 2:17 God is propitious to those who believe is not to show that God is propitious only to those who believe.