Posted by: reformbama | June 8, 2012

Spurgeon On Atonement

If Christ on His cross intended to save every man, then He intended to save those who were lost before He died. If the doctrine be true, that He died for all men, then He died for some who were in hell before He came into this world, for doubtless there were even then myriads there who had been cast away because of their sins. Once again, if it was Christ’s intention to save all men, how deplorably has He been disappointed, for we have His own testimony that there is a lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, and into that pit of woe have been cast some of the very persons who, according to the theory of universal redemption, were bought with His blood. That seems to me a conception a thousand times more repulsive than any of those consequences which are said to be associated with the Calvinistic and Christian doctrine of special and particular redemption. – Charles Spurgeon



  1. If I may, it may be.. I am not an Arminian but a moderate classic Calvinist. Spurgeon’s argument, in the first part, trades on an ambiguity regarding the meaning of “intended” and the object of this intention. No one says Christ died with the intention of saving men already in hell. Right? Rather, when it is said that Christ died for all, all living men as living, not dead men. And further, to die “for” all is ambiguous. Christ died for all, in this sense, that he bore the common curse for all, sustaining a common price of salvation applicable to all.

    Where Spurgeon missteps is on the word intention, as he has loaded that with freight that his opponent does not need to carry.

    Thanks for your time,

    • It depends on who first used the word “intended”. Remember this is a quote from a message. Spurgeon is most likely addressing an issue at the time. When I have time I will look for the whole thing.

      Thanks for stopping by David.

  2. Hey,

    “Intention” was a word that took on a very technical meaning in the 17th C. Early on, the word could be taken to refer to the revealed will, or the secret will. Eg., Fenner, the Jacobian puritan, says that God in Christ with a general intention laid down a sufficient redemptive price for all, and yet also by special intention did so to lay down the exact means whereby the elect may be infallibly saved. Fenner’s wording is almost identical to the wording of the English delegates to Dort, in their submission report to Dort.

    Later, tho, intention was identified only as the decretive intention to save and apply salvation the elect.

    On the other hand, the classic moderate Calvinist can easily say, with Fenner and with the English at Dort, that Christ did die with a general intention that by his death, all men might be saved and/or may be saved, etc. Alongside this general intention there special intention to infallibly secure the salvation of the elect. And so Spurgeon’s argument is blunted.

    Christ died for all living men, insofar as he intentionally laid down a sufficient price for the salvation of all men, and yet he died especially for the elect, etc etc. The key is, of course, no evangelical really says Christ died with any intention to save those already in hell. Right? So “all men” is not taken absolutely, as all men who have lived, live and shall live, but all living men alive at any given point in time.

    Thanks for your time,

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