With contributions from a number of well-respected Reformed theologians and church leaders, this volume offers a comprehensive defense for the doctrine of limited atonement from historical, biblical, theological, and pastoral perspectives.
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About the Author
David Gibson (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is minister of Trinity Church in Aberdeen, Scotland. Previously he served as a staff worker for the Religious and Theological Studies Fellowship (part of UCCF) and as an assistant minister at High Church, Hilton, Aberdeen. Gibson is also a widely published author of articles and books such as Rich: The Reality of Encountering Jesus and Reading the Decree: Exegesis, Election and Christology in Calvin and Barth.
Jonathan Gibson (PhD, Cambridge University) is associate minister at Cambridge Presbyterian Church and assistant professor of Old Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary. He is the author of historical and biblical articles in Themelios and Journal of Biblical Literature and regularly speaks at conferences in Australia and South Africa. Jonathan and his wife, Jackie, have two children.
J. I. Packer (DPhil, Oxford University) serves as the Board of Governors’ Professor of Theology at Regent College. He is the author of numerous books, including the classic best-seller Knowing God. Packer served as general editor for the English Standard Version Bible and as theological editor for the ESV Study Bible.
Sinclair B. Ferguson (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is Chancellor’s Professor of Systematic Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary and the former senior minister of the First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, South Carolina. He is the author of several books, the most recent being By Grace Alone: How the Grace of God Amazes Me. Sinclair and his wife, Dorothy, have four grown children.
Paul Helm (MA, Worcester College) is a teaching fellow at Regent College in Vancouver. He previously taught philosophy at the University of Liverpool and was was the J. I. Packer Chair of Theology at Regent College. He also publishes online at Helm's Deep. Paul is married to Angela, and they have five children.
John Piper (DTheol, University of Munich) is the founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and the chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. He served for thirty-three years as the senior pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and is the author of more than fifty books, including Desiring God; Don’t Waste Your Life; This Momentary Marriage; A Peculiar Glory; and Reading the Bible Supernaturally.
Thomas R. Schreiner (MDiv and ThM, Western Conservative Baptist Seminary; PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) is the James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation and associate dean of the school of theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Carl R. Trueman (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is the Paul Woolley Professor of Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary and pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church (OPC) in Ambler, Pennsylvania. He was editor of Themelios for nine years, has authored or edited more than a dozen books, and has contributed to multiple publications including the Dictionary of Historical Theology and The Cambridge Companion to Reformation Theology.
Lee Gatiss (PhD, Cambridge University) is the director of Church Society, a lecturer in church history at Union School of Theology, and a research fellow of the Jonathan Edwards Centre Africa at the University of the Free State, South Africa. He also serves as a member of the editorial board of Themelios and editor for the internet journal Theologian. Lee and his wife, Kerry, have three children.
Matthew S. Harmon (PhD, Wheaton College) is professor of New Testament studies at Grace College and Theological Seminary in Winona Lake, Indiana. He was previously on staff with Cru for eight years and is the author of several books. Matthew and his wife, Kate, live in Warsaw, Indiana, and have two sons.
Michael A. G. Haykin (ThD, University of Toronto) is professor of church history and biblical spirituality at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies. He has authored or edited more than twenty-five books, including Rediscovering the Church Fathers: Who They Were and How They Shaped the Church.
Alec Motyer (1924–2016) served as principal of Trinity Theological College in the United Kingdom, as well as pastor of several churches in England.
Stephen J. Wellum (PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is professor of Christian theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, and editor of the Southern Baptist Journal of Theology. Stephen lives in Louisville, Kentucky, with his wife, Karen, and their five children.
Garry Williams (DPhil, Oxford University) serves as the director of the John Owen Centre for Theological Study at London Theological Seminary in the United Kingdom, which provides theological teaching for pastors after their initial training. He is also a visiting professor of historical theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Garry and his wife, Fiona, have four children.
Table of Contents
Foreword (J. I. Packer) 13
1 Sacred Theology and the Reading of the Divine Word Mapping the Doctrine of Definite Atonement David Gibson Jonathan Gibson 33
I Definite Atonement in Church History
2 "We Trust in the Saving Blood" Definite Atonement in the Ancient Church Michael A. G. Haykin 57
3 "Sufficient for All, Efficient for Some" Definite Atonement in the Medieval Church David S. Hogg 75
4 Calvin, Indefinite Language, and Definite Atonement Paul Helm 97
5 Blaming Beza The Development of Definite Atonement in the Reformed Tradition Raymond A. Blacketer 121
6 The Synod of Dort and Definite Atonement Lee Gatiss 143
7 Controversy on Universal GraceA Historical Survey of Moïse Amyrant's Brief Traitté de la Predestination Amar Djaballah 165
8 Atonement and the Covenant of Redemption John Owen on the Nature of Christ's Satisfaction Carl R. Trueman 201
II Definite Atonement in the Bible
9 "Because He Loved Your Forefathers" Election, Atonement, and Intercession in the Pentateuch Paul R. Williamson 227
10 "Stricken for the Transgression of My People" The Atoning Work of Isaiah's Suffering Servant J. Alec Motyer 247
11 For the Glory of the Father and the Salvation of His People Definite Atonement in the Synoptics and Johannine Literature Matthew S. Harmon 267
12 For Whom Did Christ Die? Particularism and Universalism in the Pauline Epistles Jonathan Gibson 289
13 The Glorious, Indivisible, Trinitarian Work of God in Christ Definite Atonement in Paul's Theology of Salvation Jonathan Gibson 331
14 "Problematic Texts" for Definite Atonement in the Pastoral and General Epistles Thomas R. Schreiner 375
III Definite Atonement in Theological Perspective
15 Definite Atonement and the Divine Decree Donald Macleod 401
16 The Triune God, Incarnation, and Definite Atonement Robert Letham 437
17 The Definite Intent of Penal Substitutionary Atonement Garry J. Williams 461
18 Punishment God Cannot Twice Inflict The Double Payment Argument Redivivus Garry J. Williams 483
19 The New Covenant Work of Christ Priesthood, Atonement, and Intercession Stephen J. Wellum 517
20 Jesus Christ the Man Toward a Systematic Theology of Definite Atonement Henri A. G. Blocher 541
IV Definite Atonement in Pastoral Practice
21 Slain for the World? The "Uncomfortability" of the "Unevangelized" for a Universal Atonement Daniel Strange 585
22 "Blessed Assurance, Jesus Is Mine"? Definite Atonement and the Cure of Souls Sinclair B. Ferguson 607
23 "My Glory I Will Not Give to Another" Preaching the Fullness of Definite Atonement to the Glory of God John Piper 633
Select Bibliography 668
Index of Biblical References 675
Index of Names 690
Index of Subjects 697
What People are Saying About This
“A massive product of exact and well-informed scholarship . . . with landmark significance. . . . I give this book top marks for its range of solid scholarship, cogency of argument, warmth of style, and zeal for the true glory of God. I recommend it most highly.”
—J. I. Packer, Board of Governors' Professor of Theology, Regent College
“I cannot imagine that this book could have been published twenty-five years ago: there were not at that time enough well-informed theologians working in the Reformed heritage to produce a volume of such clarity and competence. Whatever side you hold in this debate, henceforth you dare not venture into the discussion without thoughtfully reading this book, which, mercifully, makes argument by stereotype and reductionism a great deal more difficult. Above all, this book will elicit adoration as its readers ponder afresh what Jesus achieved on the cross.”
—D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School; Cofounder, The Gospel Coalition
“The topic is worthy enough. Yet the lineup of contributors to this volume makes this, in my view, the most impressive defense of definite atonement in over a century. Beyond rehearsing traditional arguments, first-rate historical, biblical, and systematic theologians bring fresh angles and exegesis to bear. From Heaven He Came and Sought Her is a gift that will no doubt keep on giving for generations to come.”
—Michael Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California; Host, White Horse Inn; author, Core Christianity
“This is the definitive study. It is careful, comprehensive, deep, pastoral, and thoroughly persuasive.”
—David F. Wells, Distinguished Senior Research Professor, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary; author, The Courage to Be Protestant: Truth-Lovers, Marketers and Emergents in the Postmodern World
“There is a conventional wisdom that seems to believe definite atonement is the weakest of the five heads of doctrine confessed at the Synod of Dort. But you may come away from this book believing it is the strongest, in its historical attestation, biblical basis, and spiritual blessing. Written by first-rate exegetes and theologians, this book covers all the difficult issues and emerges with a highly persuasive and attractive case. Highly recommended!”
—John M. Frame, Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy Emeritus, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, Florida
“For whom did Christ die? This volume makes a fresh and impressively comprehensive case for definite atonement as the answer true to Scripture. It shows convincingly, through multi-authored contributions, (1) that the issues of the extent of the atonement and its nature cannot be separated—penal substitution, at the heart of why Christ had to die, stands or falls with definite atonement; and (2) how definite atonement alone provides for a gospel offer of salvation from sin that is genuinely free. In engaging various opposing views on this much-disputed topic, the editors seek to do so in a constructive and irenic spirit, an effort in which they and the other authors have succeeded admirably.”
—Richard B. Gaffin Jr., Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology, Emeritus, Westminster Theological Seminary
“This book is formidable and persuasive. Those familiar with the terrain will recognize that the editors know exactly the key issues and figures in this debate. And none of the authors who follow disappoint. The tone is calm and courteous, the scholarship rigorous and relentless, the argument clear and compelling. This penetrating discussion takes into account the major modern academic criticisms of definite atonement (Barth, the Torrances, Armstrong, Kendall, and others) as well as more popular critiques (Clifford, Driscoll and Breshears). An impressive team of scholars adorns this subject and aims to help Christians toward a deeper gratitude to God for his grace, a greater assurance of salvation, a sweeter fellowship with Christ, stronger affections in their worship of him, more love for people and superior courage and sacrifice in witness and service, and indeed to propel us into the global work of missions with compassion and confidence.”
—J. Ligon Duncan III, Chancellor, CEO, and John E. Richards Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary
“Whether you are sympathetic to or suspicious of definite atonement, this book will surprise you. Here are historical details, exegetical links, theological observations, and pastoral perspectives that are fresh and fascinating, even though there is also plenty that will prove controversial. From Heaven He Came and Sought Her offers the fullest and most nuanced treatment on definite atonement I know, and will richly add to the substance and quality of future conversations about the intent of the atonement. Whether you think that you agree or disagree with the authors, wrestling with these essays is well worth your time.”
—Kelly M. Kapic, author, Embodied Hope; Professor of Theological Studies, Covenant College