Classical Dutch Arminians understand the work of Christ Jesus as a penalty for the sin of every mankind. God’s love and desire to save everyone made salvation possible to any one who will call upon and believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savor.
James Arminius1 (1560–1609) accepted that humans are born dead in sins but God in his fairness and justice has restored to every mankind “without any difference of the elect and the reprobate’2(Arminius 1853: 497) the power to believe in Christ Jesus.
Following Arminian position, Donald G. Bloesch argued, “Christ has reconciled and justified the whole human race but in principle (de jure), not in fact (de facto) except for those who believe.”(Bloesch 1997: 169) He pointed that every single person is an heir to the kingdom of God but only those who accept Christ Jesus becomes the members of the church.
Bloesch3 concluded that”[t]he atonement of Christ is universal in its intention and outreach but conditional in the way its efficacy is realized in the lives of God’s people. (ibid 169). Bloesch as all orthodox Christians 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, as Bloesch, limits atonement in its efficacy namely Christ’s atoning work is a potential atonement that man has to actualize.
Strengths of Universal Atonement
The strongest verses, I believe, that support universal atonement could be established along Paul’s reasoning that God is the Savior of all men, especially of believers (1 Tim. 4:10) and John’s maintaining that Christ Jesus “is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:2) 4
Paul’s reasoning entails that God is the Savior of both nonbelievers and believers but specifically believers, while John’s leads to Christ’ universal atoning work.
Passages that stressed that Christ died for his sheep, viz., his bride, the Church (e.g. John 10:11-18) does not necessary negate 1 Timothy 4:10 and 1 John 2:2 because they do not assert that He died only for his sheep.
Weakness of Universal Atonement
Universal atonement necessarily leads to universal salvation, namely universalism5. If we consider that Christ’s atoning work propitiated the wrath of God for the sins of every single person, then it follows logically that every single person is saved from the coming wrath of God (Col. 3:6) .
John Owen correctly argued:
If […] we affirm, that Christ in their stead and room suffered for all the sins of all the elect in the world… then, are not all freed from the punishment of all their sins? Yon 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.(Owen 1862: 173-4)
Using Bloesch’s claim, viz., “[t]he gates of the prison in which we find ourselves are now open, but only those who rise up and walk through these gates to freedom are truly free.” (Bloesch 1997, 169), Owen’s reasoning would lead us to a position that if a prisoner is free, she is free indeed even though she chooses to remain in her prison’s cell. The warden cannot limit her freedom of staying or leaving. She is not either falsely free or truly free but free or not free.
Wayne Grudem properly pointed out that if “Christ’s death actually paid for the sins of every person who ever lived, then there is no penalty left for anyone to pay, and it necessarily follows that all people will be saved, without exception.”(Grudem 1994: 594) It would be unjust and unloving for God to demand payment for a debt that was already paid by the work of Christ Jesus, regardless of the debtor knowledge that her debt is paid or accepts that her debt is paid.
Bloesch does not explain how “[u]niversal atonement does not necessarily mean universal salvation, but it does imply that all people are the beneficiaries of God’s grace in some way or to some degree”(ibid 168) because, as Robert L. Reymond explained, that Bloesch’s position “requires that we conclude that Christ did not savingly die for everyone—since neither Scripture, history, nor Christian experience will tolerate the conclusion that everyone has been, is being, or shall be saved—but for some people only, even those whom the Father had given to him.”(Reymond 1998: 681)
How universal atonement does not lead to universal salvation, I believe, is a fatal problem in this understanding of atoning work of Christ Jesus.
Question To Arminian Theologians: How do you answer John Owen logical case against universal atonement?
 Arminius, the father of Arminianism, reacted to Calvin’s successor Theodore Beza, teaching that was described as of less of grace and goes beyond Calvin’s own teachings, namely “[t]he decrees of election and reprobation are said to be logically prior to the decrees of creation, fall and redemption.”(Culver 2005: 547)
 Emphasis original
 Bloesch goes even further to claim that ” [e]ven though incorrigible sinners may find themselves in hell, outside the holy city, they are not outside the compass of God’s love and protection.”(ibid 169)
 I did not include Christ’s died for ”all” passages (e.g. John 12:32; Rom. 3:22–24; 5:18; 8:32; 1 Cor. 15:22; 2 Cor. 5:14–15; 1 Tim. 2:5–6; Tit. 2:11; Heb. 2:9, Rom. 11:32; 1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9) nor ”the world”(e.g. John 3:16, 2 Cor. 5:19) because the term ”all” and ”world” are not used in strict sense (see Matt. 10:22 and John 17:16)
 a view that all humans either may or will be saved through atoning work of Christ Jesus.
Arminius, James (1853). The Works of Arminius ii, trans. James Nichols (Auburn & Buffalo: Derby, Miller & Orion, recently repr. 1853), art. xvii.
Bloesch, D. G. (1997). Jesus Christ : Savior & Lord. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.
Grudem, W. A. (1994). Systematic theology : An introduction to biblical doctrine. Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House.
Reymond, R. L. (1998). A new systematic theology of the Christian faith. Nashville: T. Nelson.
Owen, J. Vol. 10: The works of John Owen(1862). (W. H. Goold, Ed.). Edinburg: T&T Clark.