The Both/And/Not Arminian Gospel

Here’s my question for Piper, Keller, Carson, Ware, Driscoll, and
other young restless Reformed. Was Christ Punished Before Sins Were
Imputed to Him?

1. if Christ is made sin before our sins are imputed to Him, then with what sin is Christ made sin?

2. if Christ is already made sin before our sins are imputed to him,
then what’s the point of God then later imputing to Christ the sins of the elect?

John Piper (Taste and See) disagrees with Arminians for not teaching
that Christ died to purchase faith for the elect. But John Piper does
not disagree with Arminians about propitiation and substitution and
punishment. “If you believe, the death of Jesus will cover your sins.”

Piper’s gospel does not teach that Christ was already punished because of the imputed sins of the elect alone. It still only has a punishment in general, to be assigned later to those who believe.

Even though Piper does insist that Christ also died for the elect to
give them something extra that He will not be giving the non-elect, he fails to publicly tell lost unbelievers that Christ was
punished specifically for the imputed sins of the elect.

When Piper leaves that out (does he ever get to that truth even after with post-conversion folks in conferences they paid to get into?), his gospel will be heard as saying that there was enough punishment done to Christ to save even people who will nevertheless end up being
punished (with the second death).

This both/and/not Arminian message makes the important taking away of
sins to be something other than the punishment of Christ. It makes the real reconciliation to be the Spirit Christ purchased giving people a new nature and then faith to believe, even if they happen to believe a message that says Christ died for every sinner.

The alternatives are to either claim that some of the people who have
never heard the gospel are sovereignly saved anyway, or to claim as
gospel the idea of punishment before any sins are imputed.

If we jump ahead to the things Christ has bought for believers, even
including their believing, without telling it straight about the
punishment of Christ specifically for the specific sins of the elect,
then we can easily tolerate a “gospel” which has no election or
imputation in its news.

If the death of Christ is not a result of God’s imputation of specific sins, then it is not the death of Christ which saves sinners. If the atonement is Christ purchasing faith to give elect sinners a portion in a general punishment, then the punishment of Christ is not ultimately what takes sins away.

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4 Comments on “The Both/And/Not Arminian Gospel”

  1. markmcculley Says:

    So Piper, just be simple a minute, do you believe Jesus died for all people?

    Just give us a straight out answer. And I’m not going to play politics, I’m not going to answer another question. I’m going to do this.
    Before I answer it, i’m going to force you to define for all people, i’m going to say, now just tell me exactly what you mean and i’ll answer you, because I dont want to answer in a way that would cause you to misunderstand.

    What do you mean by for all people?

    Now I think I know what most, is it okay if I use the word arminians? just, just most people who, who are having a hard time, they’re not all arminians, having a hard time with limited atonement. That is the atonement that effects something special for a limited group.

    I think I know what they all mean, and i’m going to quote Miller’s Erikson’s theology because I think he’s right. He says:

    “God intended the atonement to make salvation possible for all persons. christ died for all persons but this atoning death becomes effective only when accepted by the individual. This is the view of all arminians.” closed quote.

    If that’s the view of all arminians I totally agree with it. No qualifications. So if you say “did christ die for all people” and I say “what do you mean for all people?” and you answer “I mean did he die in such a way so that anybody anywhere who believes will be saved by that blood.”
    I say “absolutely he did.” That’s John 3:16 pure and simple. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son in such a way that whoever believes will not perish, I believe that totally without qualification. Every individual person on planet earth who believes in Jesus has their life covered by the blood of Jesus. so you preach that, you stand up on sunday morning and you say christ died in such a way so that anybody in this room who believes, your sins are covered by the blood of Jesus.
    (John Piper – Acts 29 conference – The Whole Glory of God – Imputation – Impartation of His righteousness – Part 2)


    Bruce Ware, Southern Baptist Seminary;—”Those in hell, who never put their faith in Christ and so were never saved, are under the just judgment for their sin, even though Christ has paid for their sin. Just as the elect before they put their faith in Christ (which is before union with Christ) are still children of wrath, even though Christ has paid for their sin.”

    p 649, From Heaven He Came and Sought Her, Crossway, 2013

    Mark Driscoll, Death by Love, Crossway, p 174—”All those in hell will stand reconciled to God but not in a saving way…In hell, unrepentant and unforgiven sinners are no longer rebels, and their sinful disregard for God has been crushed and ended.”

    mark: I thought they would never die but continue to sin. At any rate, if their sinful disregard will have ended, it will not have been the penal substitution of Christ’s death (supposedly for them) but God’s might in judgment.

    Bruce Ware—“This reconciliation (Colossians 1:18-20) must be one which includes a sense in which those outside of Christ, consigned to eternal punishment in hell, arre at peace with God. The peace they have is simply this—-they have now seen God for who He is, they have bowed their knees before God, and have confessed with their mouths that Jesus is Lord. The deception is removed, their rebellion is over, and they now know and accept the truth of what they rejected the whole of their lives. As a result, there is peace–no more rebellion, no more deception, no more lies. The truth is known and accepted by these hell bound sinners, and they go to hell knowing that God is holy and was right….

    Luke 4: 33 And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, 34 “Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.”
    mark: Did Jesus for the demons so that they demons would know this? To what purpose a death for those who will die? And how was it substitutionary?


    “Effective for those who trust in him” is deliberately compromising language, leaving the impression and intending to leave the impression that the effectiveness of the cross, after all, depends upon the trusting sinner. Similar is the language of the phrase, “to save all who believe.” In itself, this is true. In preaching, there is need to say and emphasize this, while making clear that the faith itself is the gift of God, earned by the cross. But in a treatment of the controversy over the extent of the atonement the phrase is compromise with the heretical foe. What Piper should say is, “to save all the elect for whom He died.”
    Piper’s description of the atonement is false and heretical in that it affirms that “the availability of the total sufficiency is for all people.” Here Piper shrewdly but erroneously plays with the sufficiency language of the Canons. Canons, 2.3 affirms that the death of the Son of God “is of infinite worth and value, abundantly sufficient to expiate the sins of the whole world.” The Canons affirm sufficiency because of the person of the crucified–the eternal Son of God–and because of the nature of the suffering of Christ crucified (see Canons, 2.4). It does not affirm sufficiency in any sense whatever having to do with the amount of persons for whom Christ died–the extent of the atonement. But Piper makes sufficiency applicable to the extent of the atonement. Thus, he necessarily drifts into, or compromises with, the heresy of universal atonement. Piper’s implicit teaching is that Christ died for all humans sufficiently. This is false doctrine, according to the Canons, which faithfully express the teaching of the Bible. Christ did not die for all humans, that is, for more than the elect in any sense whatever, whether sufficiently, hypothetically, or any other sense. He died for the elect only, a death that intrinsically is of infinite worth and value–to the comfort of every elect, believing sinner. To use Piper’s language, the cross is not available with its total sufficiency “for all people.” “For” signifies ‘for the sake of’ with regard to “God’s purpose with the cross. The cross in regard both to its sufficiency and its efficacy was and is “for” all those whom God has elected, and those only.
    And then to get cute with the favorite Arminian phrase, “whosoever wills…will be covered,” is inexcusable. I know the phrase is biblical. But in the Bible it does not refer to the efficacy of the cross but to the enjoyment of the salvation of the cross by those in whom the cross has worked its saving efficacy (Rev. 22:17). The truth is that whosoever God has willed will be covered by the blood of the atonement.
    With friends like Piper, the doctrine of limited atonement needs no enemies.
    David J. Engelsma


    I’ve never seen Piper quite so full of himself (or Wilson).

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