I normally try and shy away from tackling tricky topics in something as short as a blog article, but . . . a) we just talked about this with our guided reading group so its fresh in my mind; b) these notes are really to help me put my thinking somewhere; c) Owen is just very good, and is simply the best case to engage with as far as I can see.
So I’m not claiming that what follows is the last word, and would request respectful engagement – this ain’t a hill I’m going to die on. That said, here, in a few hundred words is a few hundred pages of Owen from The Death of Death in the Death of Christ.
- Either Christ’s death pays for the elect or it pays for all.
- If it’s the latter then why do some end up in hell? Is that double-payment?
- No, says the Arminian – the benefits of Christ’s death are conditional.
- Ok, so what’s the condition?
- Answer: Belief
- Interesting, says Owen . . . so . . .
- Why belief? Is unbelief a sin? (implied answer is yes) So why should that particular sin be a hurdle to the saving benefits of Christ’s death? Why doesn’t Jesus’ death cover my unbelief?
- Second, is belief not one of the benefits of Christ’s saving death, rather than a condition for reception of said saving benefits (cf. Eph 1:3)
- Third, if we concede that faith itself is a blessing received as a fruit of Christ’s death is that faith received absolutely or conditionally. And if there’s a condition upon reception is that condition met absolutely or conditionally (etc etc etc!)
- Conclusion: as unpalatable as it might seem, it is better to recognise that in God’s sovereignty the Redeemer is sent to redeem not the entire world, but his own bride.
Now, I’m very happy to hear arguments to the contrary, provided they’re put with the grace befitting the Christian. Anything else will be removed!