Extent Of Atonement: Worldviews In Collision

“A redemption which pays a price, but does not ensure that which is purchased—a redemption which calls Christ a substitute for the sinner, but yet which allows the person to suffer” contended Charles Spurgeon “—is altogether unworthy of our apprehensions of Almighty God.”

Over two thousands year ago, a voice of one crying out in the wilderness, a man who none among those born of women is greater(Matt. 11:11), a man who came eating no bread and drinking no wine, preparing the way of the God of Israel, John the Baptist, pronounced Christ Jesus to be “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) as he saw Jesus coming toward him at Aenon near Salim, Bethany beyond the Jordan where he was baptizing.

What did John the Baptist mean? What is the extent of the atoning work of Jesus? Or as Grudem posed it: “When Christ died, did he actually pay the penalty only for the sins of those who would believe in him, or for the sins of every person who ever lived?” (Grudem 1994: 597 emphasis original)  In the course of Church history, two¹ main views emerged as theologians wrested with the questions of what Christ Jesus’ life, death and resurrection accomplished.

In this new series of articles I will attempt to define atonement, examine different atonement theorems held by Christians throughout Church history, explore the strengths and weaknesses of both Universal atonement: an unlimited atonement that views the death of Christ as made for all human beings but effective only for the elect, and Particular atonement: a limited atonement that view the death of Christ extends only for the elect, and finally offer some valuable-ness and application of holding Particular atonement view of atonement in a contemporary ministry setting.

In this series I assumed that all orthodox Christians, avoiding universal salvation, hold to some form of limited atonement. The dispute is over whether it’s God or human that limits it. Reformed argued that atonement is limited in intention namely God limits it to his chosen, while Arminian limits atonement in its efficacy namely Christ’s atoning work is a potential atonement that man has to actualize.


Which tradition, Reformed, Arminian, or Molinist, do you believe best explain the extend of atonement? Give reasons.

Next: Atonement: Establishing Borders

[1] One could argue for a third view, namely multiple intentions atonement: an un/limited atonement that consider the work of Christ as both securing the salvation of the elect and opening up the possibility for all people to be saved.


Grudem, W. A. (1994). Systematic theology : An introduction to biblical doctrine.


2 thoughts on “Extent Of Atonement: Worldviews In Collision

  1. I am glad that you are looking forward to the rest of this series, myatheistlife.

    I believe many atheists and a growing number Christians, failing to understand the context of Christ Jesus atoning work, fallen short of understanding the point of atonement.

    It is my hope that I can contribute a little to help both atheist and some Christians atleast to understand the context, nature, and extend of atonement.

    In Christ,

Comments are closed.