Did Jesus Remove The “Legal Obstacles” To Salvation For All Men Or Just The Elect?

This question was discussed yesterday in the theology study group I have joined.  It is an interesting question.  The group is currently reading and discussing Curt Daniel’s book The History and Theology of Calvinism.  We are in chapter 57 which is titled: The Extent of the Atonement.  In a section of the chapter discussing the dual aspects of atonement the following paragraph appears on page 423:

D. His son, A.A. Hodge, followed in this vein: “Nor is there any debate as to the universal reference of some of the benefits purchased by Christ. Calvinists believe that the entire  dispensation of forbearance under which the human family rest since the fall, including for the unjust as well as the just temporal mercies and means of grace, is part of the purchase of
Christ’s blood. They admit also that Christ did in some sense die for all men, that he thereby removed all legal obstacles from the salvation of any and every man, and that his satisfaction may be applied to one man as well as to another if God so wills it” (Outlines of Theology, p. 416).

The last sentence (which I have put in bold type) is which inspired the question.  As you can guess, a vigorous discussion ensued.  Some of the people present agreed with the statement but most disagreed.  The first thing that came to mind when I thought of “removing legal obstacles” was Justification.  Is Hodge saying that Christ justified any and every man?  If so, then why are not all people saved?  Others made the point that this equates to a univeral atonement. We are going to examine this issue further and discuss again at our next meeting.  I was shocked in our discussion to learn that the author (Curt Daniel) of the book asserts that the early Calvinists all believed in a universal atonement.  He said it was not until Beza came along that Limited Atonement began to be taught.  At times like this I wish I was better read in the writings of the historical figures.  It does motivate me to focus my reading more in that area.

What do you think?  If you are an Arminian I would expect you to fully agree with the statement.  If you are a Calvinist then you are probably not in agreement.  Have you considered this issue?  How do you answer this question?

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Also posted at Exploring Theology.

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