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Union with Christ and the Extent of the Atonement in Calvin

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Kevin Dixon Kennedy

This book addresses the question regarding whether John Calvin (1509-1564) taught that Jesus Christ died for the sins of the entire world or, as later Calvinists taught, that Christ died only for the sins of the elect. In contrast to the theologies of later Calvinists that placed far too much emphasis upon the transactional nature of Christ’s sacrificial death, Calvin’s theology stressed the more intrapersonal relationship that exists in the union of the believer with Christ. It was Calvin’s utilization of the concept of the believer’s union with Christ that allowed him to hold to a view of the atonement that was both universal and substitutionary concepts that later Calvinists argue are incompatible.