November 2, 2008

J. L. Dagg (1794–1884) on Other Forms of “Particular Redemption”

The adaptedness of Christ’s death to serve as a ground for universal gospel invitations, constitutes it in the view of some persons a universal redemption. . . Other persons who maintain the doctrine of particular redemption, distinguish between redemption and atonement, and because of the adaptedness referred to, consider the death of Christ an atonement for the sins of all men; or as an atonement for sin in the abstract.

Dagg seems to be saying this in the above quote: He’s aware that there are some Calvinistic men who hold to a form of “particular redemption,” but they “distinguish between redemption and atonement.” By the term “atonement,” they’re referring to the satisfaction of Christ itself, such that they think “the death of Christ” was “an atonement for the sins of all men” (i.e. an unlimited imputation of sin to Christ, contrary to Dagg’s own limited imputation perspective). In their use of the term “redemption,” they’re referring to the effectual application that the elect alone receive at the point of faith by the regenerating power of the Spirit. What is interesting is that this is the very model set forth later on in W. G. T. Shedd’s Dogmatic Theology. Shedd speaks of an “unlimited atonement” with a “particular redemption” in the above sense.

Similarly, A. A. Hodge noted the distinction in some Calvinistic theologians:
In modern times some Calvinistic advocates of an indefinite atonement distinguish between the terms [atonement and redemption] thus. Atonement, or the sacrificial impetration of salvation, they claim to be made indefinitely for all men. Redemption, which they understand to include the intended application as well as the impetration or salvation, they hold to be confined to the elect (Dr. W. B. Weeks, in “Parks’s Atonement,” p. 579).
A. A. Hodge, Outlines of Theology (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1999), 403.

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