Dabney on "texts teaching a seeming universality."

From R.L. Dabney's Systematic Theology:

== (B) From Texts Teaching A Seeming Universality.

The other class of objections is from the Scriptures; e. g., Those which speak of Christ as having compassion for, or dying for, "the whole world," "all," "all men," "every man," John 1:29; John 3:16; 4:42; 6:51; 2 Cor. 5:19; 1 John 1; John 12:32; 1 Cor. 15:22; 2 Cor. 5:14, 15; 1 Tim. 2:6; 1 Tim. 4:10; Heb. 2:9. The usual explanation, offered by the strict Calvinists, of these texts is this, that terms seemingly universal often have to be limited to a universality within certain bounds by the context, as in Matt. 3:5; that in New Testament times, especially when the gospel was receiving its grand extension from one little nation to all nations, it is reasonable to expect that strong affirmatives would be used as to its extent, which yet should be strained to mean nothing more than this, that persons of every nation in the world were given to Christ. Hence, "the world," "all the world," should be taken to mean no more than people of every nation in the world, without distinction. There is a certain amount of justice in these views, and many of these passages, as 1 Cor. 15:22; John 1:29, and 12:32, may be adequately explained by them. ==


Regarding John 3:16 and the meaning of "world," Marc D. Carpenter writes:

In John 3:16, Jesus was talking to Nicodemus, a self-righteous Pharisee who believed that God's love was confined to the Jews only. Jesus told him this astounding thing -- that God's love was not confined just to the Jews, but was also manifested toward the Gentiles. God so loved the world -- both Jews and Gentiles -- that He gave His only begotten son. The Jews knew exactly what this meant. The Jews knew that Jesus was not talking about every individual without exception. When the Jews talked about the "world" in contrast with "us," they meant "Jews and Gentiles." John again talks about this in 1 John 2:2. He says that Jesus is not the propitiation for the Jews only, but the whole world, including the Gentiles. This is the mystery about which Paul speaks in Ephesians 3: "that by that by revelation He made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief, by the reading of which you are able to realize my understanding in the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations, as now it was revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit, for the nations to be joint-heirs, and a joint-body and joint-sharers of His promise in Christ through the gospel" (Ephesians 3:3-6; also see Colossians 1:25-27). The mystery that was hidden from ages and generations that is now revealed is that Jesus saves the world -- both Jews and Gentiles. (http://www.outsidethecamp.org/efl187.htm)

In addition to what Marc wrote above, there is the supremely significant account in Acts 10 where God, in effect, is teaching Peter what "world" means. From God telling Peter to kill and eat to God sending Peter to the house of Cornelius, we see God's revelation to Peter was "that God's love was not confined just to the Jews, but was also manifested toward the Gentiles" (cf. Acts 10:34-35). Acts 11:1-18 continues this theme of converting certain Jewish believers in Christ to Gentile evangelism: 

"Then if God gave the same gift to them as also to us, believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, and I, who was I to be able to hinder God? And hearing these things, they kept silent and glorified God, saying, Then God also has granted to the nations repentance unto life" (Acts 11:17-18).


== The explanation is also greatly strengthened by this fact too little pressed by Calvinists, that ultimately, the vast majority of the whole mass of humanity, including all generations, will be actually redeemed by Christ. There is to be a time, blessed be God, when literally all the then world will be saved by Christ, when the world will be finally, completely, and wholly lifted by Christ out of the gulf, and sink no more. So that there is a sense, most legitimate, in which Christ is the prospective Savior of the world.==

Passages such as Genesis 15:5 and Revelation 7:9 are true, as are Matthew 7:13-14, Luke 13:23-24, Romans 9:27, and 11:1-5. Certainly the meaning of “remnant” cannot be construed to mean, “vast majority.” And though there be a great many who are saved (Genesis 15:5; Revelation 7:9), other passages show that this great many that is called the remnant, are few by comparison to those who are not part of this remnant.

== But there are others of these passages, to which I think, the candid mind will admit, this sort of explanation is inapplicable. In John 3:16, make "the world" which Christ loved, to mean "the elect world," and we reach the absurdity that some of the elect may not believe, and perish. ==

The candid mind will openly acknowledge that Dabney commits a blatant non sequitur. God gave His Son so that all believing ones should not perish, but have everlasting life. The "absurdity that some of the elect may not believe, and perish" is the illogical reach of a desperate man perniciously forcing non-efficacious aspects into the efficacious atonement of Jesus Christ.

== In 2 Cor. 5:15, if we make the all for whom Christ died, mean only the all who live unto Him -- i. e., the elect -- it would seem to be implied that of those elect for whom Christ died, only a part will live to Christ. ==

Yet another nefarious non sequitur by Dabney.

== In 1 John 2:2, it is at least doubtful whether the express phrase, "whole world," can be restrained to the world of elect as including other than Jews. For it is indisputable, that the Apostle extends the propitiation of Christ beyond those whom he speaks of as "we," in verse first. The interpretation described obviously proceeds on the assumption that these are only Jewish believers. Can this be substantiated? Is this catholic epistle addressed only to Jews? This is more than doubtful. It would seem then, that the Apostle’s scope is to console and encourage sinning believers with the thought that since Christ made expiation for every man, there is no danger that He will not be found a propitiation for them who, having already believed, now sincerely turn to him from recent sins (R.L. Dabney, Systematic Theology, pp. 524-525). ==

According to Dabney's self-righteous way of thinking it is not "at least doubtful" to take comfort and find encouragement in a false christ who made a "propitiation" that fails to propitiate (i.e., a false propitiation). Dabney believes that Jesus Christ is the propitiation for the sins of everyone without exception. Dabney has made the lie his refuge and he has hidden in falsehood (Isaiah 28:1-22).