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Let The Wiggling Commence: A Response To Kevin Courter

My most recent article “5 Biblical Texts That Calvinists Can’t Wiggle Out Of” received a LOT of views (numbering in the thousands per day) as well as a lot of backlash (the latter of which was to be expected). Most just simply made comments that were tantamount to saying “Nuh-uh” or “You’re wrong” which, of course, is always enough to change someone’s mind, right? I also got a particularly condescending, arrogant, and angry comment from a Mr. Jim Boucher. However, one Calvinist actually took the time to rebut the article and do so in a charitable manner. That man was a Mr. Kevin Courter.

Courter’s response can be viewed here.  The purpose of this blog post is to examine Kevin Courter’s rebuttals to my exegesis of the 5 aforementioned passages section by section. We will see that Courter’s proposed solutions fall short.

Let’s take a look at how Mr. Courter attempts to restrain the 5 biblical texts I mentioned to only the elect. Courter opens his response by explaining that the primary intent of my article was to refute limited atonement, and he is correct on that. He goes on to explain that both Arminians and Calvinists believe the atonement is limited in a sense for some reason. Again, he’s correct. As I even mentioned in my previous article, the atonement was intended for all people, but it’s only applied to those who believe. The Arminian position is that the atonement is unlimited in its intent but limited in its application. The Calvinist, by contrast, believes that the atonement is limited in both its intent and its application. As Courter, himself explained: “The question, then, of limited atonement is – for whom did Christ intend to die? All those and only those whom the Father has elected and whom the Spirit will glorify.”  My intention of appealing to the 5 biblical texts in  “5 Biblical Texts That Calvinists Can’t Wiggle Out Of” was to show that God intended the atonement to be applied to everyone, even though He foreknew it would only be applied to certain individuals.

Courter than said that limited atonement is the only view of atonement that is compatible with the penal substitution theory. I disagree. However, this is not really germane to the debate.

Passage 1: 2 Peter 2:1 

Regarding the first passage I exegeted, Courter wrote “The dilemma here is that those who bring swift destruction on themselves, admittedly a reference to eternal damnation, were, nonetheless, bought by the Sovereign LORD. Evan gives a number of potential Calvinist objections; however, because he fails to consider Calvinism within its original context, i.e., as the soteriology of Covenant Theology, he misses one. The Covenant of Grace encompasses the visible church, which includes both elect and non-elect individuals. Because it includes both of these, the possibility of apostasy is real. Christ loves and has bought the visible church, paying for it with his life. This includes those within it who are false prophets and false teachers. The atonement applies to all of those within this Covenant of Grace, but this application does not necessarily mean that they will be saved. The question of limited atonement considers it at a deeper level that deals only with the elect. It is not inconsistent to say that Christ, in his death, has purchased certain graces for all those in the Covenant of Grace but that he has died salvifically only for the elect.” 

Now, I agree with Kevin that there is what he calls “the visible church” and the “invisible church”. The former is comprised of everyone who calls themselves Christians, even if they’re not truly born again. The people who are part of the Christian community comprise those who have been truly born again (John 3:3, 2 Corinthians 5:17) and those who, while they affirm that Christianity is true, haven’t actually received The Holy Spirit into their hearts. They are like the demons who believe that God exists (James 2:19) yet are on their way to Hell (Revelation 20:10). I used to be a nominal Christian until I was 17, so I know from firsthand experience that which I speak. You can believe that Christianity is true, that The Bible is the word of God, but not believe in Christ for salvation. What this means is that many instances of apparent apostasy are probably due to the fact that these former Christians were never really saved in the first place. I do affirm that true believer are eternally secure (see here, here, and here), so I would agree that if one thinks Christianity is true a T-1 and then becomes, say, an atheist, at T-10, then this person had never been regenerated in the first place. As the apostle John wrote: “They went out from us, but they were not of us, for if they were of us they would not have gone. But their going showed they were not of us.” (1 John 2:19).

Moreover, given the content  2 Peter 2:1, it is obvious that the false teachers Peter mentioned are in the church, in the community of Christian believers. So, on this, we agree.

The problem with Kevin’s proposed solution is is that I can’t think of anywhere in scripture where Jesus’ atoning death is stated to have done anything except bring atonement and possible reconciliation with God. Consider the verses I referred to in my previous post:

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

“Keep watch over yourselves and the entire flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which He purchased with His own blood.” – Acts 10:28

“And they sang a new song: ‘Worthy are You to take the scroll and open its seals, because You were slain, and by Your blood, You purchased for God those from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.’ You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”” – Revelation 5:9-10

Consider also Galatians 3:13-15: “Christ bought us with His blood and made us free from the Law. In that way, the Law could not punish us. Christ did this by carrying the load and by being punished instead of us. It is written, ‘Anyone who hangs on a cross is hated and punished.’ Because of the price Christ Jesus paid, the good things that came to Abraham might come to the people who are not Jews. And by putting our trust in Christ, we receive the Holy Spirit He has promised. Christian brothers, let me show you what this means. If two men agree to something and sign their names on a paper promising to stay true to what they agree, it cannot be changed.”

Every single one of these passages speaks of Jesus’ “buying” people with his death in a salvific sense. Because Jesus shed His blood, He purchased us. He bought us. And because He bought us, we are redeemed. In Galatians 3, Paul writes to his Christian readers that Christ bought us with his blood and because He bought us with His blood, we are free from the curse of the law.

Revelation 5 obviously has saved people in view because this scene involves people worshipping and praising God in the throne room of Heaven, and these worshippers sing that The Lamb had purchased them out of every tribe and nation. These worshippers say that God has made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve Him and that they will reign on the Earth. The worshippers of Revelation clearly have a salvific sense of purchasing in view. For God has not made unbelievers and rebels to have a kingdom, to be priests to Him, or to reign on the Earth.

In Matthew 26:28, while Jesus doesn’t use the language of “buying” or “purchasing”, He does say that His blood was poured out for the forgiveness of sins. 1 Peter 2:24 says “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds, you have been healed.”  In 1 Corinthians 15:3, Paul says that “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures”. Isaiah 53 likewise speaks of Christ’s death as a means of atonement for our sins. The meaning of all 4 of these verses is that Jesus died to make atonement for sins.

In every of passage in which Jesus’ death is mentioned, atonement for sins is either explicitly stated or strongly implied. There is no passage that I can think of that states, implies, or logically entails that nominal Christians whom God has no intention of saving, will receive some non-salvific goods from Jesus’ death.

I can’t call to mind a biblical passage about the death of Christ where a salvific intent isn’t either explicitly stated or strongly implied, with the exception of the gospels which merely intend merely to give us historical records of the crucifixion. In that case, one would have to question the basis for saying Jesus died for people He never intended to save but planned on bringing some non-salvific goods to them. The burden of proof lies on Courter to demonstrate from The Bible that Christ’s death was intended to bring about more than just salvation.

Passage 2: Romans 5:15, 18

“But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!” (Romans 5:15). “Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people.” (Romans 5:18). As I said in my previous post, this passage leaves us with the following options: Either Paul is referring to only the elect in both parts of these verses (which means only some are affected by Adam’s sin), Paul is equivocating, saying that “all people” in the former part of the verse and means literally the entire human race is affected by Adam’s sin, but when he uses “all people” with regard to who is affected by Christ’s righteous act, Paul means only the elect. Or, Paul means literally the entire human race in both instances of “the many” and “all people”. I don’t see any other alternatives than these.

Courter evidently has no problem with saying that Paul is equivocating. He wrote “Consider this: two buses leave the station simultaneously. The many on the green bus go to Memphis and the many on the orange bus go to Chattanooga. It is should go without saying that human language is able to accommodate identical phrases in the same sentence having two different references. In this example, the different references of “the many” are indicated by the color and destination of the busses, and in Romans 5:15 the different references are indicated by the one man who committed the trespass (Adam) and by Jesus Christ. The many who are in Adam, which happens to include everyone, died; the many who are in Christ received the gift that came by grace.” 

Here, I’ll cite Molinist philosopher and Theologian Kenneth Keathley. In his book Salvation and Sovereignty: A Molinist Approach, Keathley wrote “Again, Paul declares, ‘So then, as through one trespass there is condemnation for everyone, so also through one righteous act there is life-giving justification for everyone’ (v. 18). In his discussion of this verse, John Murray tried to argue that the guilt of Adam’s race was not imputed to Christ, but rather only the guilt of a subset—the elect—was laid upon the Savior. He contended that the ‘everyone’ in the second part of the verse does not have the same meaning as the ‘everyone’ in the first part. However, he provides no exegetical justification for his claim. It would seem that if a word used twice in the same verse changes meanings with nothing in the context to indicate a change, then all hope of doing exegesis is lost.”1

Keathley says that if a word used twice in the same verse changes meaning with nothing in the context to indicate a change, then all hope of doing exegesis is lost. This makes Romans 5 very disanalogous to Courter’s bus illustration. In the bus illustration, we might have good reason to believe that there’s a difference in number among the people on the green bus and the people on the orange bus. There might be something in the context of the bus illustration to make us think that a different number of people are being described. For example, maybe the green bus is smaller than the orange bus and therefore, it has to carry fewer passengers. Maybe in the conversation, you said “The many on the green bus go to Memphis and the many on the orange bus go to Chattanooga. But there are more people heading to Chatanooga than Memphis because the bus to Memphis is so puny compared to the bus to Chatanooga”. I’ll concede that you can use the same phrase in different ways in the same sentence, but there needs to be something present in the context to make that difference clear, otherwise, you’d rightfully be accused of being purposefully misleading. In the case of Romans 5, there is nothing to suggest that Paul meant “all people” or “the many” two different ways in verses 15 and 18. Exegetical justification needs to be given such a claim.

Perhaps Courter thinks he’s done that, for he points out that universalism is false. We certainly have a plethora of passages in The Bible that are clear that not everyone will be saved. Courter says that “be righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people, then there is no other option but that all people have received justification and life. The one righteous act did not offer or make possible justification and life to all people; it resulted in justification and life for all people.”

However, there is no reason to think that if Paul meant Christ’s act extended to all humanity, then all humanity received salvation and justification. The justification and life are offered to all of humanity, even though only a subset of humanity actually accepts it. Imagine if the president of the United States sent a check for 1,000 dollars to every single U.S citizen. Imagine, however, that only some take the check to the bank and cash it. Why the others don’t cash the check is not germane to the point. Maybe they thought the check was fake. Maybe they hate the president so much that the thought of taking a gift from him is repulsive to them. The crucial point is that while this act of the President resulted in every single citizen receiving a check, not everyone benefitted from that act by cashing it. Likewise, Jesus’ death on the cross brought the possibility of receiving justification and life to all people, even though many turn it down.

Even John Calvin understood Romans 5:18 to be clearly teaching that Christ died for all. In his comments on this verse, he states, “Paul makes grace common to all men, not because it, in fact, extends to all, but because it is offered to all. Although Christ suffered for the sins of the world and is offered by the goodness of God without distinction to all men, yet not all receive Him.” (emphasis mine)2

I think Calvin hit the nail on the head. When you look at the context of verses 15 and 16, you can clearly see that the offer of justification and life is what Paul has in mind. In verses 16-17, Paul wrote “Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!” (emphasis mine). Paul refers to Christ’s work on the cross as a gift, and it’s a gift that needs to be received. Given what Paul says in these two verses, we can see that in all likelihood, Paul did not think of Christ’s sacrifice as something that would actually be imputed to whoever the “many” or “all people” are.

Now, I’m no Greek scholar, so I don’t know what the original Greek says, but every single English translation I’ve looked at renders the word as “gift”. It seems that every translation team agrees that what Paul is referring to here should be rendered as “gift”. And we know that gifts are something that needs to be gladly received. They aren’t automatically imbued to the person by the giver. When someone wants to give me a Kindle book as a gift, I have to go to my e-mail and enter a code. It doesn’t just automatically show up on my device (though that certainly would be a pleasant surprise).

My conclusion: Romans 5 teaches that the effects of Adam’s sin and of Christ’s atonement are symmetric and equal in extent. Therefore, Limited Atonement is false.

Passage 3: 1 Timothy 4:10

“That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.” – 1 Timothy 4:10

Kevin Courter agreed that if one takes “all people” and “those who believe” to be referring to the same group of people (i.e the elect), then the passage is absurd. He doesn’t dispute this or rebut this. He agrees that “All people” and “those who believe” cannot be identical. He also agrees that the “especially” clause of the verse renders God a Savior to the latter group in a greater sense than the former group.

So, you’re saying that Paul was trying to refute the salvific Jewish exclusive thinking of his readers (i.e that only Jews could be saved), and I would argue that this is what Paul was doing in Romans 9, so since Paul was saying God is the savior of “all people” meaning “all types of different people” which would include Jew and Gentile alike, he narrows in on the importance of believe. Restated, Paul says “God is the savior of every type of person, not merely Jews…” (God is the savior of all people), “…more specifically, he is the savior of those who believe” (especially those who believe). And you’re saying that if elect individuals are whom Paul was referring to in the first part of the verse, then his audience might interpret that with the presupposition of Jewish exclusivity and think “Yes, God is the savior of all the elect, and all the elect are Jews”.

All I really have to say in rebuttal is that this appears to me to be a really strained interpretation. This interpretation just doesn’t jump off the page. Paul did rebut Jewish exclusivity in some of his epistles (I would argue particularly in the book of Romans), but it isn’t at all clear that that’s his intention in 1 Timothy 4. In fact, I see no indication that Paul is trying to refute Jewish exclusivity in any of the 6 chapters of this pastoral epistle.

Passage 4: Ezekiel 18:32

First, Courter explains that the argument I’m putting forth isn’t so much against the Calvinist’s doctrine of Limited Atonement, but against the reformed doctrine of the sovereignty of God, and I think what Courter means by that is how those in the reformed crowd interpret what it means to say that God is sovereign. The fact is that it’s an argument against both. For if God takes displeasure in wicked sinner’s dying, yet he causally determines all things, including who comes to Him and who doesn’t, and libertarian free will isn’t a concern to Him, then it makes little sense why God doesn’t cause the wicked sinners whose death he takes displeasure in to come to Him. But one of the necessary conditions for wicked sinners to get saved is for Jesus to have died for them. If Jesus didn’t die for all, then no atonement exists for those whose death God takes no pleasure in but prefers would come to repentance.

Now, with respect to the very phrase “causally determines”, Courter takes issue with it, saying it’s a redundancy that he’s rarely seen used by Calvinists. Fair enough. Maybe it is a tautological phrase, but it still conveys the idea that God strongly actualizes everything that occurs. Courter goes on to write that it “is either the inability or unwillingness to allow for the possibility of Compatibilism. A modified beginning of the WCF 3.1 is accepted as the fullness of Calvinist thought on the matter, “God, from all eternity, did…freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass.” And, Q.E.D., Calvinists believe in an unjust God.

First of all, let me just get this out of the way before I cite the rest of Kevin Courter’s response. I don’t believe that Calvinists believe that God is unjust. I just think their views logically entail that. Okay, so then Courter said:

“The remainder of the confessional statement should not be ignored- ‘yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.’ It is one thing not to understand how someone who believes that God has ordained whatsoever comes to pass can also believe that God is not the author of sin, that he does no violence to our will, and that he does not take away our liberty; it is another to imply that they don’t really believe it.” 

It really makes no difference to this specific argument whether God’s decree of all things (in a deterministic sense) renders Him the author of evil or not, nor does it make a difference whether God’s decree of all things (in the deterministic sense) leaves creaturely will intact. It makes no difference whether compatibilism achieves what it seeks to accomplish (i.e reconcile divine determinism with free will). The point in my appeal to Ezekiel 18:32 is that given the proposition that God takes displeasure in the death of the wicked and would much rather prefer the wicked turn from their ways and live, then why doesn’t (A) Jesus die on the cross for them so they can have atonement available, and (B) God send irresistible grace to them to cause them to come to repentance?

I could concede that compatibilism does what it intends to do, that determinism doesn’t entail that God is morally responsible for the sins He causes people to commit, and so on, and this verse would still present the adherent of T.U.L.I.P with a problem.

Courter than said that “A problem arises when it is assumed that Calvinists teach that God withholds the offer of salvation from certain people. This is untrue. The free offer of the Gospel is no less universal for the Calvinist than it is for the Arminian.” 

If what Courter means is that God holds the offer of salvation from no one in the sense that everyone has the gospel preached to them (or, in the case of the unevangelized, at least have general revelation to respond to), then it’s true that on Calvinism God “offers” salvation to everyone. However, the real question is whether this is a “well-meant” offer. If Jesus didn’t die on the cross and if God isn’t sending a person grace to draw them to Himself, then how is God not being insincere in calling the non-elect to repentance? It would be analogous to a friend sending me an invitation to a party but doesn’t tell me when or where it’s going to be, therefore leaving me unable to attend. Or worse, it’s like a friend who sends me an invitation to his party, but not only leaves the time and location absent, but he writes it in a language he knows full well I can’t understand. We would see such an invitation as a joke and the idea of it being a well-meant offer would be laughable.

True, God doesn’t withhold the gospel invitation from anyone, but if the T.U.L.I.P is correct, it’s not a sincere invitation. Only if Jesus provided a means of atonement and God is working on their hearts to draw them to salvation could such an invitation really be a well-meant offer. What I said was that God witholds the means of salvation from the non-elect, not that He doesn’t call them.

In my blog post, I said that some Calvinist realize the predicament Ezekiel 18:32 puts them in and therefore propose a “Conflicting Desires” argument in an attempt to solve it. They basically agree with the Arminian that God desires all to be saved, but then go on to propose that God also wants to glorify Himself and that universal salvation and maximal glorification are logically incompatible, therefore, God must opt for one over the other. I quoted Jim Boucher of in order to explain the argument from an actual Calvinist and therefore dissuade anyone from accusing me of attacking a straw man. Jim Boucher explained the proposal as follows: “it may be the case that God has more than one set of desires. Perhaps he wants all people to be saved, but he has a greater desire in mind. This would resemble human psyche quite a bit as well. Just as a man might want to lose weight and get in shape, he also wants to spend more time with his family, and there are just not enough hours in the day. People often have conflicting desires. It is logically possible for God to want everybody to be saved, but have a greater desire that his justice and his wrath are put on display for the sake of his glorification.”3

I rebutted this proposal by saying

“But there two major problems with this proposal. First of all, even if God did need to display His wrath against sin for the sake of His glorification, why would He need the damned to accomplish that? Wasn’t Jesus on the cross a display of God’s wrath against sin? Didn’t the naked bloody Christ show the world just how much God despises sin and inequity? I think the Calvinist would certainly say yes to those questions. But then, why would it be necessary to irresistibly damn people to Hell? It wouldn’t be because He needs someone to punish “so that his justice and his wrath are put on display for the sake of his glorification.” for Jesus’ crucifixion would have accomplished that.”

Courter gives 3 responses. First, he says that all Boucher was doing was presenting the Conflicting Desires argument as a logical possibility. I agree that the Conflicting Desires argument is a logical possibility (i.e there is nothing internally coherent about the proposal, nothing that violates any known law of logic). My issues with the Conflicting Desires Argument is that it seems ontologically impossible, or simply untrue.

My first response was that even if the argument were conceded that God needed to punish in order to be fully glorified, why couldn’t Jesus’ sacrifice accomplish that? Christians of all stripes agree that God’s love and God’s wrath were simultaneously on display on the cross. As A.W Tozer wrote “The Cross is the lightning rod of grace that short-circuits God’s wrath to Christ so that only the light of His love remains for believers”.4 sd Galatians 3:13 agrees “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.'”  It wasn’t simply that Christ’s death absorbed the wrath of God, it displayed the wrath of God.

To this response, Courter says “All there is in these questions is the implied assumption that Christ’s crucifixion and the damnation of sinners glorify God in the same way. This is far from obvious.” — This is merely the fallacy of personal incredulity. Notice that Courter didn’t give any reason to think the cross wouldn’t display God’s wrath in the same way as sending some people to Hell.

Courter also didn’t interact with my second point that if God desired something that negated his glory, even a tiny bit, wouldn’t that be sinful? Wouldn’t it be sinful to desire something that detracts from the glory of God? If so, then by saying that God desires all to be saved, but chooses not to save everyone because he desires His glory more, you’re essentially saying that while God made the right decision, he still would have liked something to have come about which would have detracted from his glory.

I have other problems with The Competing Desires argument that I didn’t address in “5 Biblical Texts That Calvinists Can’t Wiggle Out Of”. For example, if God can’t be fully glorified unless He sends people to Hell, then that would make creation necessary. God had no choice of whether to create a universe or to refrain from creating anything. If God needed the damned, then he had to first create them, have them sin, and then condemn them. Wouldn’t this imply that God was lacking something prior to creation? Doesn’t it entail that God was not a Maximally Great Being prior to getting sinners into Hell? No, God doesn’t need anything from His human creatures. As the apostle Paul preached “And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.” (Acts 17:25, emphasis mine).

While I don’t like to nitpick at every little thing my opponent says that I think is in error,5 I would like to respond to the last thing Courter said. He wrote, “There is no suggestion here that God has trouble stomaching the exercise of his own justice, even when that includes a death sentence for the offender.” That just isn’t true! For one thing, Ezekiel 18:32 and Ezekiel 33:11 indicate that God finds distaste in having to dish out punishment on the wicked, but there are other accounts in The Bible that indicates God’s displeasure at people not repenting. Consider the following examples:

“I weep for you, as Jazer weeps, you vines of Sibmah. Your branches spread as far as the sea; they reached as far as Jazer. The destroyer has fallen on your ripened fruit and grapes.” – Jeremiah 48:32

“So my heart laments for Moab like the music of a pipe; it laments like a pipe for the people of Kir Hareseth. The wealth they acquired is gone.” – Jeremiah 48:56

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” – Jesus, in Matthew 22:37

“As he [Jesus] approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, ‘If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace-but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” – Luke 19:41-44

Does it look like God is upset over having to punish instead of forgiving? It does to me.

Passage 5: 1 John 2:2 

“He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” – 1 John 2:2

In response to this passage, Courter says “Why identify either group with the elect? The group identified by ‘our’ refers to John and his original audience. It had saved people in it. It may have had people who would be saved, and it may have had people who would never be saved. To say that Christ is the atoning sacrifice for the sins of this group does not require an understanding that each and every individual in the group is intended. The group identified as ‘the whole world’ expands the pool from which the elect will be drawn. It goes from John and his original audience to the whole world. Once again, each and every individual in this group is not necessarily elect, but the elect do come from throughout the whole group.” 

But Courter only puts this forth as a bare possibility. He doesn’t give us any reason to think that “the whole world” doesn’t apply to all humanity.

Courter then wrote “Keep in mind that Calvinists restrict the numbers to whom the atoning sacrifice applies because they have greater concept of what the atoning sacrifice does. It actually saves. Arminians acknowledge that not everyone is actually saved. Consequently, to the extent that they believe the atoning sacrifice must apply to each and every person, they must believe that this atoning sacrifice only makes salvation possible.” — We Arminians also believe the atonement actually saves…when it is applied by faith. Not everyone applies it by faith. The president of the United States could mail a bar of soap to every single U.S Citizen in an attempt to end filthiness, but if only some people actually use the soap, only some people will come clean. To paraphrase Billy Graham; Calvinists ask me that if Jesus died for all, why aren’t all saved? Because the blood of Christ, like soap, must be applied if we’re to come clean.

The atonement makes salvation possible for all, and actual for many.


Kevin Courter has not succeeded in undermining my exegesis of the 5 aforementioned biblical texts. Although he has tried, he has not succeeded in wiggling out of the Arminian implications of these verses.


1: Keathley, Kenneth. Salvation and Sovereignty (Kindle Locations 3540-3546). B&H Publishing. Kindle Edition.

2: See J. Calvin, The Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Romans and to the Thessalonians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, [1540]1960), 117-8.

3: Jim Boucher, “A Brief Critique Of Prevenient Grace & Response To Cerebral Faith”, March 22nd 2016,

4: A.W Tozer,

5: I’ve done this before. I’ve learned that it’s best to focus on the major overarching issues in debates. Focusing on little detail I think is wrong can result in very lengthy rebuttals. Focusing only on the big stuff allows for shorter rebuttals and less typing on my part.

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