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16 April, 2007 / theexpositor

Falwell: Limited Atonement is ‘Heresy’

What is going on with Dr. Jerry Falwell and Liberty University? He has come a long way since the days of the Moral Majority.

There have been many instances in the last several years to raise concerns, but none more disconcerting that the ones that I have taken note of in the last 18 months.

In early 2006, it was Dr. Falwell’s president of Liberty University that declared from the pulpit that Calvinism was “cancer” on the body of Christ. Dr. Falwell has affirmed Dr. Caner’s position on numerous occasions.

Most recently, Dr. Falwell’s made an appearance on a CNN special entitled What Would Jesus REALLY Do?, in which during his interview he praised Pope John Paul for his leadership and stance on abortion.

Now comes the report that Dr. Falwell has declared that the teaching of limited atonement is heresy. In a blog post by Dr. Thomas Ascol of Founders Ministries, entitled Jerry Falwell’s Friday the 13th declaration: Limited atonement is heresy :

Last Friday at the “College for a Weekend” emphasis at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, Jerry Falwell preached a chapel message to 1828 prospective new students along with current students, faculty and staff. Under the title of “Our Message, Mission and Vision,” Dr. Falwell declared his purpose to be to communicate who Liberty University is in order to persuade prospective students to matriculate there.When he came to articulating their belief in the “substitutionary atonemement of Jesus Christ for all men,” however, he added a statement that I find tragic. Here it is (about 10 minutes or so into the video):”We are not into particular love or limited atonement. As a matter of fact we consider it heresy.” 

Dr. Ascol goes on:What I regret is that he finds particular atonement to be “heresy.” This must mean that he and Liberty believe that those who hold to particular atonement to be heretics. Among the countless numbers of people whom he would brand with the H-word are many who would make any evangelical Who’s who list (including Bunyan, Owen, Whitefield, Spurgeon, Carey, Boyce, Mell, Dagg and Lloyd-Jones, to name but a few of the dead ones). I find this sad.

Does Jerry Falwell and Liberty University really judge John Piper to be a heretic? If we take his words seriously, as surely we ought if we are to honor him, then he believes that Al Mohler, R.C. Sproul, John MacArthur, D. James Kennedy, Ligon Duncan, Mark Dever, Tom Nettles, Wayne Grudem, Sinclair Ferguson, James White and Fred Malone teach heresy.  

And I fully agree with Dr. Ascol as he concludes:It is time for this generation of believers to learn how to disagree over substantive issues without falling into the sins of slander and bearing false witness. When the Word of God that we love gets trampled underfoot by those who profess to defend it in the very process of their defense, it is more than ironic. It is tragic. 

Tragic indeed. 



  1. Nathan / Apr 16 2007 16 42

    Just wondering,
    Do you consider it heresy to NOT believe in limited atonement? I’m not presuming that you do, I’m just wondering what your position is.

  2. Mike / Apr 16 2007 18 38

    No I do not. I believe that many people basically do not understand the doctrine of limited atonement, or more accurately described as “definite or particluar atonement” I had a very good conversation with Pastor Scott Reiber on todays (Mondays) radio program. It will be available on our site later today.

  3. Henry Frueh / Apr 16 2007 21 47

    It is heresy. In love. A person can teach heresy and not be a heretic in the accepted sense. To teach that Jesus did not die for the sins of everyone by tortured definitions of all, world, etc., is a false teaching. One or the other teaching is heresy.

    When we get to heaven and we know as we are known and the Spirit reveals that Jesus’ blood was not shed for everyone then I will have taught heresy by proclaiming that He did.

    If the Spirit reveals that He did shed His blood for everyone then you will have taught heresy that He didn’t.

    It doesn’t mean either of us are not saved, it does mean that the two teachings are mutually exclusive and comparitively heretical unless He died for no one and then we are all lost heretics. I know many strict Calvinists who love Christ and Arminians also, but the two teachings on the scope of the atonement are completely at odds although not substantive for personal salvation.

    By the way, Calvin assumed limited atonement because he thought it must be true within his other teachings but it is the most flimsy of the five points, in the humble opinion of an unprofitable,Wesleyan servant.

  4. shane trammel / Apr 18 2007 1 33


    I agree with you that people, especially people who are shaping young men and women should be able discuss differences without resorting to word phrases that seem to be an attack rather than an attempt to share the truth in love. The truth as they understand it at least.

    Now the questions.

    1) Would it be fair to say either limited-atonement is doctrinal accurate or it is not. In other words, can two opposite opinions about this issue be correct at the same time?

    2) I see this as an essential, rather than non-essential area of doctinal debate. To me anything that has to do with regeneration, salvation, justification, is essential doctrine. What are your thoughts.

    3) Finally, do you hold to the doctrine of limited-atonement, and if so, do you think it is even remotely possible that you has interpreted the teaching of the bible in this area?

    Thank you for your comments. I enjoy your show. I have not listened to very many of your shows, but if you haven’t, you might consider having a non-Calvinist/Reformed guest on your show to discuss some of these issues from their perspective.

    I supspect you are at least more, if not fully of the reformed tradition. Is this a fair statement? Just curious.



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