Atonement (footnote)

During a recent interview with Mark Dever and John Piper (on 3/1/07) Bruce Ware gave his view on the doctrine of Particular Redemption.  You should check out this interview at   Here is my rough paraphrase of this dialogue.

Question 1: Did Christ really buy the non-elect or did these false teachers just claim they were purchased?  How is Christ’s death a propitiation of the father’s wrath for the non-elects sins?

Bruce Ware believes 2 Peter 2:1 means Christ shed his blood for the non-elect as well as for the elect.  He believes Colossians 1:20 is even a better text to support a multifaceted view of the atonement (Ware himself labels his position a “multiple intention” view of the atonement).  Ware would see more universal implications behind the atonement of Christ.

John Piper said the important question to ask is what does it mean when you tell someone that Christ died FOR you.  Piper believes you can say this but only within certain parameters.  John wanted to know ultimately what is the design in Christ’s death?  According to Bruce Ware the purchase itself pays the penalty for the elect and the non elect alike.  (Piper replies, I don’t understand how this works out for those non-elect who are suffering in hell).  Dr. Ware then added the following, “The atonement was such that if the non-elect believed they would be covered by the atonement of Christ.”  Christ’s death was sufficient for all.  The same redemption was blood bought for the non elect but is only effectual for the elect (who believe and are effectually called by the Spirit).

When Dr. Piper thinks of the blood he thinks of that which not only made our salvation possible but that which secures our election as well.  Bruce Ware believes that according to John 6 that Jesus knew on the cross that His blood would secure the salvation of the elect.  Their two views are close but obviously different.

John Piper said he would not quickly label Ware’s view “4-pt Calvinism.”  Dr. Ware believes that Christ won the right to reign over all because he conquered all men’s sins through his atoning death on the cross (see 1 Cor 15, Col 1:20, Phil 2:9-10). 

Ware focuses his attention in Col 1:20 on the word all.  Piper said the important word in that passage is not all it’s the word reconcile.


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