For the last several years, I’ve been corresponding with my friends David and Jonny Gibson about a 700-page book they’ve been editing on definite atonement.
During this time, Mark Snoeberger and I have been editing a much smaller debate-book titled Perspectives on the Extent of the Atonement: Three Views, with essays and responses by Grant R. Osborne, John S. Hammett, and Carl R. Trueman (B&H, forthcoming).
So I’ve been eagerly anticipating this book for several years:
David Gibson and Jonathan Gibson, eds. From Heaven He Came and Sought Her: Definite Atonement in Biblical, Historical, Theological, and Pastoral Perspective. Wheaton: Crossway, 2013. 703 pp.
It doesn’t disappoint my high expectations. It’s amazing. It’s definitely the most thorough and compelling book describing and defending definite atonement. And best of all, it not only refutes other views and presents strong arguments for definite atonement; it addresses the issue with the right tone. It leads the reader to worship the triune God!
- ch. 1. David and Jonny Gibson’s introduction
- chs. 12–13. Jonny Gibson’s meticulous exegesis of Paul’s letters
- ch. 14. Tom Schreiner on “problematic texts” in the pastoral and general epistles
- ch. 19. Steve Wellum’s “The New Covenant Work of Christ: Priesthood, Atonement, and Intercession.” The Gibson brothers say this about Wellum’s chapter in their introduction: “Stephen Wellum presents an argument for the priestly nature of Christ’s atoning work which reflects new covenant theology understandings of the nature of covenant, election, and ecclesiology. His rich theological thinking leads the reader to see the reality of definite atonement in the Scriptures, but the particular route he takes through the biblical terrain is different from our own classically Reformed understanding of the nature of covenant, election, and ecclesiology. The book maps different routes to the same destination, and not all readers will want to travel each and every path in reaching the same goal” (p. 40n21). I think Wellum’s route and synthesis is more compelling.
- ch. 23. John Piper’s concluding chapter addresses how to preach definite atonement, and along the way he refutes the multiple-intentions view that Bruce Ware, Mark Driscoll, and others hold. Here’s an excerpt from Piper’s chapter (p. 640):
We see this again in Ephesians 5:25: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” A husband loves his wife in a way that is different from the way he loves other women. And Christ loves his bride, the church, in a way that is different from the way he loves other people. He “gave himself up for her.” In my preaching, this has been one of the most effective ways to help my people feel the preciousness of definite atonement as an expression of God’s distinguishing love for them. What would it be like for a wife, I ask them, to think that her husband only loves her the way he loves all other women? It would be disheartening. He chose her. He wooed her. He took the initiative because he set his favor on her from all the others. He has a distinguishing love for her—a great love—that is unique. She is his own loved treasure like no other woman. And so God’s elect are his own loved and blood-bought people as none others are.
- Justin Taylor’s interview with the editors and some contributors
- an hour-long interview with the editors (and Carl Trueman)