In part 1 of this series the dilemma that Owen poses to those who reject a limited/particular atonement was explored. According to Dr. Owen the options are:
- Accepting that God had no purpose or intention behind the cross
- Accepting that God had a purpose behind the cross but failed to achieve it
We left off with Owen acknowledging that others interpreted key passages differently than he did. Those who disagree argue that there is a distinction that must be made between Christ procuring spiritual blessings for all and applying them only on those that believe.
Some of them say that Christ, by his death and passion, did absolutely, according to the intention of God, purchase for all and every man, dying for them, remission of sins and reconciliation with God, or a restitution into a state of grace and favour; all which shall be actually beneficial to them, provided that they do believe
Owen vehemently rejects this view citing several reasons in Book II, chapter 4. Several of these seem to be begging the question as they are restating Owen’s conclusions.
- this distinction (between the procurement of the blessings and the application of them) hath no place in the intention and purpose of Christ.
- whomsoever Christ obtained any good thing by his death, unto them it shall certainly be applied.
- [all the spiritual blessings] must be applied to all for whom they are obtained; for otherwise Christ faileth of his end and aim
Later, in chapter 5, Owen seems to begrudgingly admit that there is a distinction.
I shall, then, briefly declare, that although these two things may admit of a distinction, yet they cannot of a separation, but that for whomsoever Christ obtained good, to them it might be applied; and for whomsoever he wrought reconciliation with God, they must actually unto God be reconciled.
Admittedly, Owen does not think it is possible for spiritual blessings to be procured for someone who will not eventually have them applied. This, in his view is because “faith is given without condition to the elect.” But we will tackle that a bit later. Continue reading