Universal Atonement

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Ok, I used to beleive in election and limited atonement! Now I'm a Catholic (praise the Lord) and have been for 2 years. I believe in universal atonement now as our church teaches. But still, I need help.

On "logical" terms limited makes more sense because the Bible is clear people are going to be in hell. So, if Christ paid for their sins then why are they in hell? This all goes along with calvanism and election. They say it is double jepordy and calling God a monster to say Christ paid for a persons sins but since they did not "choose Him" (which is just another sin) they will be cast into hell for their sins (plural).

I don't believe that guys (although I used to strongly). But can someone explain to me universal atonement? How Christ has paid for all sins but some will still end up in hell! Is it because his blood must be applied to us, or is it just another mystery about God where we cannot FULLY understand the ENTIRE truth about salvation?

-- Jason (Enchanted fire5@aol.com), April 29, 2004


Hi Jason,

Praise God that He brought you to His Church! God has also been working in me and I wish to become Catholic (from Protestant) as well. While I was never a Calvinist, I go to a college that is heavily populated by Calvinists, and I have had discussions about their beliefs (esp. predestination) MANY times. I completely understand your situation.

You may find these sites helpful:

Catholic Outlook - Salvation

JimmyAkin.com - Protestant groups (here you will see several points addressing Calvinist views)

God bless,

-- Emily (jesusfollower7@yahoo.com), April 29, 2004.

Hi Jason,

Emily gave you some great links. She is a treasure trove of truth.

My limited understanding is that Christ's sacrifice was sufficient (and intended) for all, but is limited in efficacy because we must freely respond to God's call (we still have a free will).

If the efficacy of Christ's sacrifice was intended for all, then no one would go to hell.

I personally don't think of hell as a punishment from God, but more as a choice we all make when we decide to reject God and choose ourselves or something else over Him. If we die in that state, God simply gives us what we want, eternity without Him. Eternity separated from God is hell.

That concept helps me understand hell and the perfect justice and mercy of God at the same time.

-- Andy (aszmere@earthlink.net), April 29, 2004.

Here's another link I found helpful.

A Tiptoe Through the Tulip by James Akin

-- Andy (aszmere@earthlink.net), April 29, 2004.

I think part of the problem is a change in mindset. Non-catholics have a hard time answering 'OR' questions with a 'yes'. As Catholics we don't have this sensibility. We are always answering 'OR' questions with a yes.

Is Jesus God or man? Yes. (Of course, non-catholic christians are with us here).

Is it Scripture of tradition? Yes.

Are we saved by faith or works? Yes.

And, your question . . . is it grace or freewill? Yes.

Does God have to send the Holy Spirit to move me to repentance? Yes. Is faith a gift? Yes. Do we require grace to be called to Christ? Yes. To say anything else is to deny scripture. On the otherhand, do we need to repent? Yes. Are we free to accept or reject Christ? Yes. Do we need to persevere? Yes. To say anything else is to deny scripture and human experience.

How do these things work together? I have a silly analogy, which probably has a lot of holes in it, but I will try it anyway. You are in a room with two light switches. These light switches are four feet apart and both need to be held on at the same time to gain salvation. The only problem is that both these light switches have locked covers over them and you are wearing handcuffs. Jesus Christ comes and tears the locked covers off (atonement for all), now anyone can turn these light switches on. Now what? You try to turn the switches on but you can't reach both because of the handcuffs. You are not strong enough to break the cuffs. No matter what contorted position you achieve you can't reach both. Once you calm down you hear a gentle whistle behind you. There is the Holy Spirit holding the keys, 'you want me to unlock those handcuffs?'. (Grace calling you to repentance). At this point notice: you can say 'NO'. Or you can say yes. You say yes and the Holy Spirit unlocks you. You can now reach both switches at the same time. Yet, low and behold, on a table on the other side of the room is a playboy and a breifcase of cocaine. All you have to do to get them is put your hands through this tiny pair of handcuffs. . .

What I am trying to say is that we are in a fallen state (not totally depraved mind you). God's grace does not take away our freewill, or even deny it; it is God's grace that gives us our freedom back. Saint Paul and Jesus both talk of sin as slavery. Mankind is in slavery to sin. We need a 'Moses' (a new Moses in fact - Jesus) to free us from that slavery. Only then are we free. Once we are free we can choose whether or not to follow this 'Moses'. We can freely choose to go back to slavery. How many times did the Israelites say that things were better back in Egypt? Only gentle (and not so gentle) reminders from God kept them on the path to the promised land.

Jesus died to atone for all. The Holy Spirit pours forth Grace on all. (He does not send Grace only to a few and choose to send the others to hell, God wills the damnation of no one). Now we must respond. We must cooperate with those graces.

Well, I hope I have made some sense.


-- Dan Garon (boethius61@yahoo.com), April 30, 2004.

Hi Jason,

I thought of an answer to your question, which I hope is helpful. It's a bit simplistic. Dan's was very good and that site Andy linked to I think is great - it should be helpful. Andy, BTW thank you for the compliment. I noticed that you always possess a spirit of charity and are so kind to everyone. God bless you.

Ok, Jason, sorry got off track... lol

God's grace is offered to everyone and Jesus died for everyone. God offers this to everyone, but we must choose to accept it. This is basically the principle that Andy explained - sufficiency and efficacy.

2 Pet. 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

Joshua 24:15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

God bless!

-- Emily (jesusfollower7@yahoo.com), April 30, 2004.

dan and jason,

good analagy so far, but im going to propose another one:

the world is a giant store, and salvation is only one of the things it sells. when we walk around the store we can pick whatever we want. Jesus has already paid for the item we call salvation... but whether or not we decide to pick that one up (and its a big one) and haul it all the way to the checkout is our decision. often one gets distracted on the way to the register, or sometimes doesnt even make it to the aisle with the items they need. thus, Jesus has paid for it, but some just arent going to take it.

-- paul h (dontSendMeMail@notAnAddress.com), April 30, 2004.

Good analogy paul,

I like to use the one about being in prison. Jesus has paid the bail to set us free. Paid it for everyone - universal bail. That gives each and every person the choice of walking out of prison as free people, a choice no-one had before Jesus paid the price. But, the fact that the bail has been paid doesn't force anyone to leave their cell. Some people choose to remain in bondage their whole life, even though Jesus has made all the necessary arrangements for their freedom.

-- Paul M. (PaulCyp@cox.net), April 30, 2004.

Thanks all you guys. They were all good analogies. But still I think that Salvation will always be a mystery. I mean Jesus didn't come to save us from "hell," but from OUR SINS, right. To deny Christ is just another sin as we are COMMANDED to believe in Him. So Christ had to pay for that sin as well. I don't know, I guess it's such a wonderful mystery which I cannot grasp. I mean we cannot think we can "explain" everything from God in a "logical" sense. Who are we to think we can understand God is as logical, after all He says "Our thoughts are not His thoughts and Our ways are not His ways." I once heard a dear friend of mine say "God's wisdom is like the depth's of the ocean and He only lets us understand his wisdom up to our necks."

I submit to God's Holy Catholic Church to teach me the Truth, amen!

-- Jason (Enchanted fire5@aol.com), May 01, 2004.

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