The Calvinist doctrine of Limited Atonement was born several years after John Calvin died… and it has been in need of a proof text ever since. It teaches that Christ only died for a relatively few elect individuals who, according to the fifth point of Calvinism, will persevere in living for Christ until the end of their physical lives. This means that we can look at the fruit in people’s lives and determine whether or not Christ even died for them. It also means that if we want to know whether or not Christ died for us, we need to look at our own works.
Tsar Ivan the Terrible was known for his paranoia and terrible fits of rage. Anyone who angered Ivan the Terrible to the slightest degree faced instant execution. He was constantly throwing violent tantrums, and during one outburst, Ivan even beat his own son and heir to death. Standing up to the tsar in those times was an unthinkable act, but one day a so called “Fool for Christ” named Basil did just that. It was spring in Russia, a time when followers of Russian Orthodoxy fast for Lent. Basil approached Ivan the Terrible and offered him a slab of raw meat, insisting that there was no point in fasting, since the tsar had committed too many murders to be able to cover his sin with the act of fasting. Ivan realized that Basil was right, and deeply respected him for standing up to him. In fact, when Basil died, Ivan the Terrible himself acted as a pallbearer at the funeral and named the most famous cathedral in Russia after him.
Let’s talk about animal sacrifice in the Bible and why we don’t do animal sacrifices today. When we mention animal sacrifice, the first thing people often think about is the Mosaic Law, but the Mosaic economy is not the only one that featured sacrifices. Sacrifices also occurred immediately after the fall (Gen 3:21), in the first generation after the fall in the dispensation of conscience (Gen 4:4), after the flood in the dispensation of human government (Gen 8:20), and in the dispensation of patriarchs (Job 1:5). So, before Christ, were people saved by offering animal sacrifices? The short answer is “No.” The long answer is “Noooooooooooooo!”
Here’s an excerpt from a paper I’m working on that has been modified for your viewing pleasure:
In Matt 24:13, Jesus says the famous words:
But the one who endures to the end will be saved. (ESV)
Perhaps the most common understanding of this passage is that we must endure in good works to the end of our physical lives to be saved from hell. This understanding contradicts Paul’s words in Eph 2:8a:
For by grace you have been saved through faith. (ESV)
I came so they could have life and so they could have it abundantly.
Eternity lasts forever, so not a single day could be added to or taken away from it. What, then, does Jesus mean when He says that He wants us to have eternal life abundantly? It is not that He wants us to have more eternity, but that He wants us to have more in eternity.
In an earlier post, we discussed panmillennialism (the belief that in the end, everything will somehow “pan out”). Panmillennialism is probably the most commonly held view of eschatology (doctrine of end times) in the Bible Belt, and if we get to the core of it, what we’ll find is that panmillennialism is driven by theological apathy. Unfortunately, many Christians don’t see the value in studying prophecy. I maintain that there is a lot to benefit from eschatology, but you can read the original post and decide for yourself.
Today, I’d like to look at Christian Pluralism. If panmillennialism is the apathetic approach to eschatology, then Christian Pluralism is the apathetic approach to soteriology (doctrine of salvation). It teaches that there are many different ways to be saved, so long as those ways involve Jesus somehow.