What is the Weakest Point of Calvinism?
If someone were to ask me what is the weakest point of Calvinism, I would reply that it is the doctrine of limited atonement. I believe that the Calvinist must go to great leaps to make the Scriptures teach that Jesus died only for a select few when the overwhelming case against the Calvinist theologian is that Jesus died for all. Over and over again we read that He gave His life for all people from John 3:16 to 1 Timothy 2:4. The Arminian is further strengthened when we see how many times the Bible calls people to believe, have faith, or repent. The focus is not on a few but upon all to come to Jesus for salvation.
Dr. Roger Olson, in his book Against Calvinism, makes a great point when he writes that the atonement of Jesus by saying, “That He is the Savior of all people in provision and yet He is Savior of all people only in application.” He was referring to 1 Timothy 4:10. Jesus’ death on the cross is sufficient for all people to be saved. Even Calvinists agree with this. Jesus’ blood could potentially save all people but human beings must appropriate His shed blood for forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 9:22; 10:4). That Jesus died for all seems to be pretty clear in the New Testament (John 3:16; 1 John 2:2; 4:10). Jesus is called the Savior of the world (John 4:42). That seems very clear and yet Calvinists such as the Puritan John Owen must go to great lengths to prove that when the New Testament uses the word “world” it’s not referring to the whole world but only the elect. The word “elect” must be inserted into hundreds of New Testament passages that speak of “world” or “whosoever” or “all.” Owen even goes out of his way to try to prove that John 3:16 is not speaking to the entire world but only to the elect and that Jesus died only for the elect based on John 3:16.
In the end, to me the Calvinist comes across as taking their preconceived theological bias and reading into the text. Why not allow all to be all or the world to be world when the context clearly suggests this? Certainly I agree that at times the word “all” doesn’t always mean all such as in Luke 2:1 but clearly in passages such as 1 Timothy 2:4, there is no reason to not believe that all here means all. The only way to avoid all being all would be to do what John Owen did above and take your view of unconditional election and enforce it upon passages such as John 1:29 or 1 Corinthians 8:11.
We Arminians would do well then to continue to preach that Jesus died for all people and call all to repent (Acts 2:38-39). Jesus told us to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20), may we be faithful to preach that He shed His blood so that all could repent and be saved by grace. Remember, the Lord does not delight in the death of the wicked but rather that he should turn and live (Ezekiel 18:30-32). God’s desire is to show His mercy upon all (Romans 11:32). He is good and loving and desires to save all who would come to Him through Christ (John 6:37, 40; 12:32; 14:6; 20:31; Romans 10:13; Galatians 3:26-28; Colossians 2:12; Hebrews 11:6).