H. Orton Wiley on the Universal Scope of the Atonement
provided by SEA member Roy Ingle
The following is taken from Dr. H. Orton Wiley’s book Introduction to Christian Theology (pp. 234-235):
The atonement is universal. This does not mean that all mankind will be unconditionally saved, but that the sacrifice offering of Christ so far satisfied the claims of the divine law as to make salvation a possibility for all. Redemption is therefore universal or general in the provisional sense, but special or conditional in its application to the individual.
It is for this reason that the universal aspect is sometimes known as the sufficiency of the atonement. Two Scripture texts taken in their relation to each other, stand out with peculiar distinctness. The first is the statement of our Lord, that The Son of Man came…to give His life a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28). The second is generally considered to be the last statement of St. Paul on this subject, and is evidently a quotation from the previous scripture, Who gave Himself a ransom for all (1 Timothy 2:6). Note that each of the principal words is given a stronger connotation: the life becomes the self; the purchase price, the personal Redeemer; and the many, the all.
The scripture passages bearing upon this subject have already been presented in a general way, and we have need here merely to given additional references. We group them according to the following simple outline. (1) Those scriptures which speak of the atonement in universal terms: (John 3:16,17; Romans 5:8, 18; 2 Corinthians 5:14,15; 1 Timothy 2:4; 4:10; Hebrews 2:9; 10:29; 2 Peter 2:1; 1 John 2:2; 4:14). (2) Those which refer to the universal proclamation of the gospel and its accomplishments: (Matthew 24:14; 28:19; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47; cf. also Mark 1:15; 16:16; John 3:36; Acts 17:30). (3) Those which distinctly declare that Christ died for those who may perish: (Romans 14:15; 1 Corinthians 8:11; Hebrews 10:29).
Arminianism with its emphasis upon moral freedom and prevenient grace, has always held to the universality of the atonement; that is, as a provision for the salvation of all men, conditioned upon faith. Calvinism, on the other hand, by its doctrine of the decrees, its unconditional election, and its penal satisfaction theory, has always been under the necessity of accepting the idea of limited atonement.
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