General Baptists often talk about Christ’s atonement as being for “the whole world”, meaning in their vernacular “each and every person who ever lived.” As James White has rightly asked, “Did Jesus died for the Amorite [pagan] high priest?” However, I think James misunderstands the focus of the General Baptist’s view of atonement. Given the fact that many are dispensational, they probably don’t see that Christ’s death applies retroactively to the people of the Old Testament.
In fact, with both General and Particular Baptists, there is an over-emphasis on the church as a primarily Gentile institution unconnected with the covenant people of God in prior eras. While the covenantal Baptist may pay lip-service to such a connection, they still speak about justification and salvation as if they’re something new within the New Testament era, or at least appropriated differently in this era.
This in turn leads to a whole host of issues relating to the understanding of the nature of the covenants, covenant rites and baptism in particular. As I discovered in a recent conversation, some Baptists have to resort to dichotomizing the covenant given to Abraham because the inclusion of circumcision appears to be a requirement of works, and also lends credence to the paedobaptist position.
The church is not primarily a Gentile institution intended to propagate the salvation of individuals, but is a continuation of the established covenant people of God, albeit under a new administration, intended to feed the covenant people of every tribe, nation and tongue, and their offspring, on the Word of God.