limited atonement
   Limited atonement is the Calvinist doctrine that Christ died to atone for the sins of only those whom God predestined to be saved. It conforms to an emphasis on the sovereignty of God and the depravity of humanity Humans, in their depraved state, can do nothing to secure their own salvation; the faith by which some can respond to God's grace is itself a gift from God. Those who do not have faith are not among the elect.
   The doctrine stands in opposition to the doctrine of universal atonement, which states that Christ died for all humans, even though the atonement becomes effective only when appropriated by faith. Methodists, for example, have generally argued for prevenient grace, a grace given to all that makes it possible for them to choose God after they have heard the Gospel message.
   Limited atonement is also known as particular redemption and as such gives its name to the Particular Baptists. The doctrine is most often associated with conservative Presbyterian, Reformed, and Baptist churches. A strong statement on limited atonement was made at the Reformed Synod of Dortrecht (1618-1619). It is one of a complex of doctrines that are known as the five points of Calvinism (total depravity, unconditional election, irresistible grace, and the perseverance of the saints).
   See also Calvinism.
   Further reading:
   ■ Loraine Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine Of Predestination (Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed Press, 1965)
   ■ John Owen, The Works Of John Owen, 16 vols. (London: The Banner Of Truth Trust, 1963)
   ■ David N. Steele and Curtis C. Thomas, The Five Points of Calvinism: Defined, Defended, Documented (Phillipsburg, N.J.: Presbyterian and Reformed Press, 1963).

Encyclopedia of Protestantism. . 2005.

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