Part One: The Heresy and Mischief of LIMITED ATONEMENT by David Bentley Hart

Re: Ivan Karamazov in The Brothers Karamazov and the mischief of limited atonement by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

The moral rationality of Ivan’s rebellion remains entirely unassailable, however, when it is set against those forms of theological fatalism that, having failed to understand the difference between primary and secondary – or transcendent and immanent – causality, defame the love and goodness of God out of a servile and unhealthy fascination with his ‘dread sovereignty.”

The crude and unapologetic “double predistinarianism…’ could scarcely be any better evidence of what mischief can be worked upon theological thinking when the difference between primary and secondary causality is forgotten then the heresy of “limited atonement,’ which has so dreadfully disfigured certain streams of Reformed thought.

The doctrine, of course, completely contradicts Scripture: “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).

And proponents of the doctrine that all biblical statements of God’s universal will to salvation in fact refer only to his will for the elect is entirely incongruent with the language of 1 Timothy 2:4, which clearly states that God desires that “all human beings [pantas anthropous] should be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.”

At its most unfortunate, this exaggerated adoration of God’s sheer omnipotence can yield conclusions as foolish as Calvin’s assertion, in Book III of the Institutes, that God predestined the fall of man so as to show forth his greatness in both the salvation and the damnation of those he has eternally preordained to their several fates.

One wonders, indeed, if a kind of reverse Prometheanism does not lurk somewhere within such a theology, a refusal on the part of the theologian to be a creature, a desire rather to be dissolved into the infinite fiery flood of God’s solitary and arbitrary act of will. In any event, such a God, being nothing but will willing itself, would be no more than an infinite tautology – the sovereignty of glory displaying itself in the glory of sovereignty – and so infinite banality.

This is why I say that, within Ivan’s arraignment of God’s design in creation, on can hear the suppressed but still prophetic voice of a deeper, truer, more radical and revolutionary Christianity. [Further] Christ has overthrown those principalities that rule without justice and in defiance of charity, and has cast out the god of this world; and we are free (even now, in this mortal body) from slavery to arbitrary power, from fear of hell’s dominion, and from any superstitious subservience to fate. And this is the holy liberty – THE GOSPEL – that lies hidden but active in the depths of Ivan’s rebellion.

(89 – 92) David Bentely Hart

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~ by natedawson on 2011/03/30.

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