Yesterday I outlined a few concerns about the Reformed doctrine of limited atonement. In this post I will outline two basic principles that I had not considered initially, but which helped me reaffirm the doctrine.
The part of the doctrine that I’d overlooked is that when Reformed people speak of limited atonement, they are only referring to the positive work that was accomplished on the cross. We don’t call the atonement universal, since we like to think primarily of its positive results. And everyone knows that not all will be saved.
However, Reformed people do not view Christ’s work on the cross as limited to what it accomplished positively. We also understand the atonement to have worked negatively. We see two separate things being accomplished on the cross: salvation and judgment; salvation for those who love the cross and judgment for those who reject it. So in one sense, Christ’s work on the cross was universal in scope, but is limited in its positive effects. Therefore we speak of it as a limited atonement.
So in what sense does Peter speak of false prophets as having been bought? I don’t have a good answer yet, but I’m working on it. To be honest, I’m scared I might overlook the right answer in trying to defend my tradition. When and if I find a good solution I post here.