For whom did Christ die, by John Owen

The classic polemic of Puritan John Owen is the times tested summary of the atonement views propagated among churches unto this day. Consider his argument:

The Father imposed His wrath due unto, and the Son underwent punishment for, either:

 1. All the sins of all men.
2. All the sins of some men, or
3. Some of the sins of all men.

In which case it may be said:
That if the last be true, all men have some sins to answer for, and so, none are saved.

That if the second be true, then Christ, in their stead suffered for all the sins of all the elect in the whole world, and this is the truth.

But if the first be the case, why are not all men free from the punishment due unto their sins?
You answer, “Because of unbelief.”

I ask, Is this unbelief a sin, or is it not? If it be, then Christ suffered the punishment due unto it, or He did not. If He did, why must that hinder them more than their other sins for which He died? If He did not, He did not die for all their sins!”

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One response to “For whom did Christ die, by John Owen

  1. I had so much trouble getting my mind around this argument by Owen, that I resorted to setting it to music. The tune is a variation of the children’s song, “I’m in the Lord’s Army!” Don’t bother, you won’t figure out my tune.

    Extent
    by John D. Chitty

    Did Christ die for
    all sins of all men,
    or all sins of some men,
    or some sins of all men?

    If Christ died for
    some sins of all men,
    then all die
    for those he did not.

    But if he died for
    all sins of some men,
    that’s what we believe,
    all th’elect of all the nations!

    But if Christ died for
    all sins of all men,
    why are not all men saved?

    You will answer,
    “Because of unbelief”–
    Is unbelief a sin, or not?

    If not, why then
    for it give account?
    Either for it Christ was
    punished, or not.

    If he was, then
    why does unbelief
    prevent salvation more
    than other sins he died for?

    But if he did not
    die for unbelief…
    then for all sins of all men
    Christ did not die!

    So Christ died for
    all sins of some men:
    those the Father
    gave to his Son!

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