Machen Vs Universal Ineffective Atonement

Machen, God Transcendent, p 136—”How broad and comforting, they say, is the doctrine of a universal atonement, the doctrine that Christ died equally for all men there upon the cross! How narrow and harsh, they say, is this Calvinistic doctrine—one of the “five points” of Calvinism—this doctrine of the “limited atonement,” this doctrine that Christ died for the elect of God in a sense in which he did not die for the unsaved!

But do you know, my friends, it is in reality a very gloomy doctrine indeed. Ah, if it were only a doctrine of a universal salvation, instead of a doctrine of a universal atonement, then it would no doubt be a very comforting doctrine; then no doubt it would conform wonderfully well to what we in our puny wisdom might have thought the course of the world should have been. But a universal atonement without a universal salvation is a cold, gloomy doctrine indeed. To say that Christ died for all men alike and that then not all men are saved, to say that Christ died for humanity simply in the mass, and that the choice of those who out of that mass are saved depends upon the greater receptivity of some as compared with others—that is a doctrine that takes from the gospel much of its sweetness and much of its joy.

Machen: From the cold universalism of that Arminian creed we turn ever again with a new thankfulness to the warm and tender individualism of … God’s holy Word. Thank God we can say , as we contemplate Christ upon the Cross, not just: “He died for the mass of humanity, and how glad I am that I am amid that mass,” but: “He loved me and gave Himself for me; my name was written from all eternity upon His heart, and when He hung and suffered there on the Cross He thought of me, even me, as one for whom in His grace He was willing to die.

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11 Comments on “Machen Vs Universal Ineffective Atonement”

  1. Chris Duncan Says:

    Machen is not as intolerant as he seems to let on: http://www.calvinism.us/machen.htm

  2. markmcculley Says:

    “But what was the difference between the teaching of Paul and the teaching of the Judaizers ? What was it that gave rise to the stupendous polemic of the Epistle to the Galatians? To the modern Church the difference would have seemed to be a mere theological subtlety. About many things the Judaizers were in perfect agreement with Paul. The Judaizers believed that Jesus was the Messiah; there is not a shadow of evidence that they objected to Paul’s lofty view of the person of Christ. Without the slightest doubt, they believed that Jesus had really risen from the dead. They believed, moreover, that faith in Christ was necessary to salvation.

    But the trouble was, they believed that something else was also necessary; they believed that what Christ had done needed to be pieced out by the believer’s own effort to keep the Law. From the modern point of view the difference would have seemed to be very slight. Paul as well as the Judaizers believed that the keeping of the law of God, in its deepest import, is inseparably connected with faith.

    The difference concerned only the logical–not even, perhaps, the temporal–order of three steps. Paul said that a man (1) first believes on Christ, (2) then is justified before God, (3) then immediately proceeds to keep God’s law. The Judaizers said that a man (1) believes on Christ and (2) keeps the law of God the best he can, and then (3) is justified.

    The difference would seem to modern “practical” Christians to be a highly subtle and intangible matter, hardly worthy of consideration at all in view of the large measure of agreement in the practical realm. What a splendid cleaning up of the Gentile cities it would have been if the Judaizers had succeeded in extending to those cities the observance of the Mosaic law, even including the unfortunate ceremonial observances!

    Surely Paul ought to have made common cause with teachers who were so nearly in agreement with him; surely he ought to have applied to them the great principle of Christian unity.

    “As a matter of fact, however, Paul did nothing of the kind; and only because he (and others) did nothing of the kind does the Christian Church exist today. Paul saw very clearly that the differences between the Judaizers and himself was the differences between two entirely distinct types of religion; it was the differences between a religion of merit and a religion of grace. If Christ provides only a part of our salvation, leaving us to provide the rest, then we are still hopeless under the load of sin.

    For no matter how small the gap which must be bridged before salvation can be attained, the awakened conscience sees clearly that our wretched attempt at goodness is insufficient even to bridge that gap. The guilty sinner enters again into the hopeless reckoning with God, to determine whether we have really done our part. And thus we groan again under the old bondage of the law. Such an attempt to piece out the work of Christ by our own merit, Paul saw clearly, is the very essence of unbelief; Christ will do everything or nothing, and the only hope is to throw ourselves unreservedly on His mercy and trust Him for all.”

  3. markmcculley Says:

    God’s grace is not “infinite” because God’s grace is not for everyone. But God’s particular discriminate grace is for some sinners, because those who are no longer sinners no longer need grace. http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tullian/2014/05/02/distinguishing-consequences-and-condemnation-2/

  4. markmcculley Says:

    Gal. 2:19 (For I through the law died to the law, that I might live to God)

    The law . . . led men, by its clear revelation of what God requires, to relinquish all claim to salvation by their own obedience. In that sense, surely, Paul could say that it was through the law that he died to the law. The law made the commands of God so terribly clear that Paul could see plainly that there was no hope for him if he appealed for his salvation to his own obedience to those commands.

    This interpretation yields a truly Pauline thought. But the immediate context suggests another, and an even profounder, meaning for the words.

    The key to the interpretation is probably to be found in the sentences, I have been crucified together with Christ, which almost immediately follows. The law, with its penalty of death upon sins (which penalty Christ bore in our stead) brought Christ to the cross; and when Christ died I died, since he died as my representative.

    In other words, the death to the law… which the law itself brought about when… Christ died that Since He died that death as our representative, we too have died that death. Thus our death to the law, suffered for us by Christ, far from being contrary to the law, was in fulfillment of the law’s own demands. Notes on Galatians, p. 159

  5. markmcculley Says:

    Machen, Notes on Galatians, p178–“You might conceivably be saved by works or you might be saved by faith, but you cannot be saved by both. It is ‘either or’ here not ‘both and’. The Scripture says it is by faith. Therefore it is NOT works.”

    but then Machen writes about James-: “The works which Paul condemns are not the works which James condones,” and vice versa

    Gaffin now often quotes Machen in favor of his own position.

    I agree with Cunha (The Emperor’s New Clothes) that the Machen quotation on James is dangerous

    justification is not by works
    not by works before justification, and not by works after justification

    and i reject “process justification”

    justified but continuing to be justified justification

    not yet justification

    Benjamin Keach, The Marrow of True Justification: The Biblical Doctrine of Justification Without Works, Solid Ground Books, Birmingham, Alabama USA, 2007, p 80—”None have an evangelical righteousness, but those who are justified before they have it. Christ is our legal righteousness by a proper imputation of His righteousness to us, and only then is our evangelical righteousness also.

    “Once we are justified, we need not inquire how a man is justified after he is justified. God has not appointed this personal evangelical righteousness, in order to our Justification before Him. By that righteousness of Christ which is out of us, though imputed to us, the Justice of God is satisfied; therefore all Works done by us, or inherent in us, are excluded in our Justification before God.”

  6. markmcculley Says:

    Machen– We can preach the gospel, they tell us, by our lives, and do not need to preach it by our words. But they are wrong. Men are not saved by the exhibition of our glorious Christian virtues; they are not saved by the contagion of our experiences. We cannot be the instruments of God in saving them if we preach to them thus only ourselves. Nay, we must preach to them
    the Lord Jesus Christ; for it is only through the gospel which sets Him forth that they can be saved

    http://reformedaudio.org/audio/machen/Machen%20-%20The%20Importance%20of%20Christian%20Scholarship.pdf.

    http://oldlife.org/2014/10/whats-abhor

  7. markmcculley Says:

    In the first place, it will be said, are we not failing to do justice to the true humanity of Jesus, which is affirmed by the creeds of the Church as well as by the modern theologians? When we say that Jesus could not illustrate Christian faith any more than God can be religious, are we not denying to Jesus that religious experience which is a necessary element in true humanity? Must not Jesus, if He be true man, have been more than the object of religious faith; must He not have had a religion of His own? The answer is not far to seek. Certainly Jesus had a religion of His own; His prayer was real prayer, His faith was real religious faith. His relation to His heavenly Father was not merely that of a child to a father; it was that of a man to his God. Certainly Jesus had a religion; without it His humanity would indeed have been but incomplete. Without doubt Jesus had a religion; the fact is of the utmost importance. But it is equally important to observe that that religion which Jesus had was not Christianity. Christianity is a way of getting rid of sin, and Jesus was without sin. His religion was a religion of Paradise, not a religion of sinful humanity. It was a religion to which we may perhaps in some sort attain in heaven, when the process of our purification is complete (though even then the memory of redemption will never leave us); but certainly it is not a religion with which we can begin. The religion of Jesus was a religion of untroubled sonship; Christianity is a religion of the attainment of sonship by the redeeming work of Christ.

    —J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism, New Edition. (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2009), 78–79.

  8. markmcculley Says:

    Jesus was not a Christian
    Torrance argued for an “active obedience” in which Christ repented for us, believed for us, was born again for us, was converted for us, and worships for us. “We must think of him as taking our place even in our acts of repentance” (The Mediation of Christ, p 95)
    Donald Macleod responds (Christ Crucified, 2014, p 219)—There is a great discontinuity between Christ and those he came to save. They were sinners and Christ was not. Christ could not trust in God’s forgiveness because he had no need of forgiveness. He could not be born again because he required no changed of heart. He could not be converted because His life demanded no change of direction.
    If we move from the idea of Jesus as a believer to the idea of Jesus as the one who is believed IN, does Jesus believe, vicariously, in Himself?….It is not his faith that covers the deficiencies of our faith (as it is given to us by God). It is Christ’s death that covers the deficiencies of our faith…Our faith is not in the Son of God who believed for us, but in the Son of God who gave Himself for us.

  9. markmcculley Says:

    Machen—The guilty enter into hopeless reckoning with God, to determine whether they have really their part. And thus they groan again under thebondage of the law. Such an attempt to divide up the work of Christ, the apostle Paul saw clearly, is the very essence of unbelief; Christ will do everything or nothing…..Galatians 2:20 Christ lives with regard to me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through me obeying the law, then Christ died for nothin

  10. markmcculley Says:

    I assume that Machen believed in “the covenant of works” from an early age. But it seems that he only learned at a late age that he had no hope without vicarious law-keeping, the merit of Christ gained from the law. So before that Machen was a Christian who by mistake put all his hope in Christ’s death.

    Romans 7: 4—you also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ, in order to be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, in order to bring forth fruit unto God. …
    7: 6 But now we have been released from the law, since we have died to what held us,

    Adam was already under law before Adam sinned. But he law written on the heart in the new covenant means ” “FORGIVEN, REMEMBERED NO MORE”

    The law written on the heart does NOT mean that now our law-keeping can bless us.

    Hebrews 8: 10
    But this is the covenant
    that I will make with the house of Israel
    after those days, says the Lord:
    I will put My laws into their minds
    and write them on their hearts.
    I will be their God,
    and they will be My people.
    11 And each person will not teach his fellow citizen,[e]
    and each his brother, saying, “Know the Lord,”
    because they will all know Me,
    from the least to the greatest of them.
    12 For I will be merciful to their wrongdoing,
    and I will never again remember their sins.

  11. markmcculley Says:

    I do not make void the grace of God; for if righteousness is through the law, then Christ died in vain” (Galatians 2:21)
    “I do not make void the grace of God,” says Paul in concluding the report of his speech to Peter; “for if righteousness is through the law, then Christ died in vain.” The “for” here gives a reason for the use of the harsh words “void”–” ‘that is just the right word, since if Judaizers say, justification comes even in part through our obedience to the law, then Christ died in vain.”
    This verse is the key verse of the Epistle to the Galatians; it expresses the central thought of the Epistle. The Judiazers attempted to supplement the saving work of Christ by the merit of their own obedience to the law. “That,” says Paul, “is impossible; Christ will do everything or nothing: earn your salvation if your obedience to the law is perfect, or else trust wholly to Christ completed work; you cannot do both; you cannot combined sinner merit and grace. If justification even in slightest measure is through the merit of sinners, then Christ died in vain.”
    —J.Gresham Machen, Notes on Galatians, p 161


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