The nice thing about the Web is that it has made the world a lot more smaller. With it we can know what is happening in a remote section of the world. So I have been reading on the storm brewing in SBC regarding the subject of Calvinism and the recent John 3:16 Conference last October 2008. Hopefully this does not finally divide the denomination but right now it is a source of controversy. What is controversial is the attaching of the label hyper-calvinist to some Calvinistic promoters within SBC.
More than a year ago, I came to the conclusion that most Calvinists in the popular evangelical scene are really Owenian rather than Calvinian. I mean they are Owenian in their staunch defense of Limited Atonement.
Before I go on, we may need the input of the following in this conversation: JK, who happens to be a Southern Baptist, and David who writes about Calvin and Calvinism.
OK, back to the argument of Owen for Limited Atonement.
John Owen, that revered awesome Puritan theologian, offered the following argument in favor for believing in Limited Atonement:
He puts the universal atonement believer on the stand and asks this question.
You will say, “Because of their unbelief; they will not believe.” But this unbelief, is it a sin, or not? If not, why should they be punished for it? If it be, then Christ underwent the punishment due to it, or not; if so, then why must that hinder them more than their other sins for which he died from partaking of the fruit of his death? If he did not, then did he not die for all their sins? Let them choose which part they will.
But as Pr. Neil Chambers pointed out in his Th M thesis (an acquaintance of mine), Owen's position leads to the elect being justified already at Calvary. Here is what Rev. Chambers' said
What needs to be seen is that Owen’s argument defeats itself by proving too much. If, in Owen’s terms, Christ died for all the sins of some people, the elect, then he must also have died for their unbelief, where ‘died for’ is understood to mean having paid the penalty for all their sins at Calvary. If this is the case, then why are the elect not saved at Calvary? If Owen replies that it is because the benefits of Christ’s death are not yet applied to them, then I would ask what it means for those benefits not to be applied to them? Surely it means that they are unbelieving, and therefore cannot be spoken of as saved. But they cannot be punished for that unbelief, as its penalty has been paid and God, as Owen assures us, will not exact a second penalty for the one offense. If then, even in their unbelief, there is no debt against them, no penalty to be paid, surely they can be described as saved, and saved at Calvary. That being the case, the gospel is reduced to a cipher, a form of informing the saved of their blessed condition.
Notice I highlighted the portion which is of interest to me. Owenian Limited Atonement therefore leads one to believe that the elect are already justified at the Cross. Therefore that means the elect are justified with out faith. But then, this means that this is not JBFA.
Now does not that sound familiar to you? Does not this Limited Atonement conclusion lead to something we are familiar with and have been discussing for some time (hint look at the few posts below on justification)?
I am amazed and struck at the similarity of conclusion.