Teaching: March 2004 Archives

Limited Atonement

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My computer looks as if it might be down for the count, at least for a while, so I'm not going to be doing a lot of blogging for a bit. So I'll do another classic pre-Parablemania Parableman. Because a friend of mine emailed me a few days ago about the Reformed doctrine of Limited Atonement, we'll go with that.

John Owen argues for the view Reformed thinkers call limited atonement, basically the view that Christ's death was only for the sake of those who would be saved. Since those who never become saved never take advantage of the atonement, in what sense is it for them? Their sin is never atoned for. His argument is slightly for a more detailed, though it�s very short and worth looking at.

I think Owen gives a good argument for limited atonement (or what more recent theologians have preferred to call particular atonement, which I think is just as obscure a term). But what about I Timothy 2:5, which says that Christ Jesus gave himself as a ransom for all? What about John 3:16, which says that God's love is for the world that anyone who believe in him will have eternal life? Reformed thought has an easy answer to the second part. Those who do end up believing, i.e. those chosen by God to believe, will have eternal life. But what about God's love for the whole world? What about God's desire that no one die in Ezekiel 18:23 and Ezekiel 33:10? This essay is intended to sort out such issues.


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I've been looking into what I might use for an ethics class I'm teaching this summer, and I've just discovered that the Patricia Williams book I've been using is now out-of-print. So I'm hunting around for something else to put up against John McWhorter (maybe his second book on race this time around, though). Does anyone know of a good, cheap presentation of the standard issues about racial narratives? I don't want it to be long, it should be readable to someone who hasn't had an ethics class previously (though an ancient philosophy class and an early modern philosophy class are prerequisites). It needs to be a book, not an article. Unfortunately, I may have to resort to using just Naomi Zack's philosophy of race textbook, which isn't very readable (for style reasons) or detailed and is a little pricey for just two weeks of a summer class. Any alternative suggestions will be considered.



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