My book, Chosen to Serve, was meant to rethink the Biblical doctrine of election. I was presenting an alternative to the Calvinist doctrine of Unconditional Election and the Arminian doctrine of Conditional Election. I found the Bible taught something different from either of those two positions.
My next big project is to rethink the meaning of the cross. Calvinists believe in Limited Atonement (that Jesus only died to save the elect, and actually does save them). Arminians believe in Unlimited Atonement (that Jesus died to save the world, but only believers actually get saved). But what does the Bible teach?
Once again, my suspicion is we’ve missed it. The very narrow range of questions that Calvinists and Arminians debate (e.g., Did Jesus die for some or all? If He died for all, why does anyone go to hell?), do not do justice to the full scope of the Biblical evidence. If the Biblical doctrine of the cross was an album, the question of “Who did Jesus die for?” would only be one song. It might be the most popular song, but there is much more to listen to.
For example, I have discovered the Bible presents the cross as the key moment in a war between God and Satan for dominion over creation. That’s not something I’ve typically read in Calvinist and Arminian literature. Have you? But it’s right there in the Bible.
Where do you see it?
You see it Genesis 1-3. After God creates man to rule, and the serpent orchestrated the fall, God cursed the serpent and made this promise:
The Lord God said to the serpent,
“Because you have done this,
Cursed are you more than all cattle,
And more than every beast of the field;
On your belly you will go,
And dust you will eat
All the days of your life;
And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel” (Gen 3:14-15).
In this passage we see that God promised to: continue the war with Satan (“I will put enmity”); send a Messiah to defeat him (“her seed”); and win the war through the Messiah dying on the cross (“you shall bruise him on the heel”; cf. Isa 53:5). So right in the opening chapters of the first book of the Bible you that the cross is part of a war with Satan.
And where do we see how the war is resolved? In the last book of the Bible. In Revelation 20, we read how the enmity between God and Satan finally comes to an end with Satan’s defeat:
And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever (Rev 20:10).
So the overarching narrative of the Bible—from Genesis to Revelation—is the war between God and Satan.
And where does the cross fit in? In Revelation 5 we are told that through His death on the cross, Christ became worthy to rule. And through him, saints can become co-rulers with Him, completing man’s original purpose:
“Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.
“You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth…”
“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing…To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever” (Rev 5:9-10, 12, 13b).
In other words, it looks like this next book project will be tying together three themes that most books that debate Unlimited Atonement or Limited Atonement ignore: (1) the war between God and Satan for dominion; (2) the coming Millennial kingdom; and (3) ruling with Christ in the kingdom. For my own purposes, I’m calling this approach the Dominion View of the Atonement (reclaiming that term and putting it in a pre-mil context).