Contend Earnestly: Book on the Atonement

Friday, August 17, 2007

Book on the Atonement

I am, once again, leaving for a week next week, this time for some vacation with the family. When I return I will be finishing up the Five Points of Calvinism and then probably getting back to my other series, which was my view on the Ordo Salutis. For now, I wanted to let all know that there is a book that Dr. Bruce Ware recommended to me after I emailed him with some questions. If you ever want to ask him a question, he is very open and willing to answer questions you have for him, so I would encourage you to do so if there is certain parts of his ministry or theology you want to inquire.

For me, it was the extent of the atonement of Christ. I have been doing a ton of study on the subject and have a great teacher behind the scenes that I have been able to glean much knowledge from. If you want to read his thoughts on the subject and collection of quotes from famous Calvinists from the past, go to Theology Online. As I spoke to Dr. Ware about this subject, he pointed me to a book by Dr. Michael Thomas called The Extent of the Atonement: A Dilemma for Reformed Theology from Calvin to the Consensus. I hope that after reading this it will be further revelation of what the reformers and historic Calvinists believed before Beza and Owen took Calvinism off track, as the Remonstrants did the Arminians. I will be giving my findings and beliefs on the atonement when I hit the atonement part of the Five Points of Calvinism. I will tell you, that at this point, I am thoroughly convinced that not only does the Bible teach the unlimited/limited view of the atonement, but so did many, and I mean many, of the historic Calvinists and also, Calvin himself.

I hope that when I bring my findings that we can engage on this site as we always do, with Scripture first and foremost, theological persuasion second and experience a distant third.

May your weekend be blessed and may we all return to the book faithfully handed down to the saints.


Stefan said...


What are you suggesting by stating that "Beza and Owen took Calvinism off track"?

If you are suggesting that Calvin's theology is far less scholastic, etc. than those who followed him, I would suggest you do a whole lot more reading on the subject before you make that claim.

Seth McBee said...

Stay tuned to the post on the atonement when I get there. But, I will tell you that I believe that Owen does not look at the payment correctly that Christ made.

We will get there...and I have read a lot of Calvin and his quotes on the subject compared to Owen and they aren't close.

Josh said...

Your pretty brave, Seth :-)

I agree with ya. The unlimited expiation view of the early Reformers
has never been exposed in general reading. I did a few double takes when I was shown Calvin's comments as well as Shedd, Dabney, Manton, etc.

Watch what will see high and hyper Calvinists defend their view with slander, name calling, accusing you of reading out of context, and all the while totally ignoring the thrust of all these early Reformed writers.

Its amazing. The opposing side will toss out theological "cuss" words and call you an Arminian, still while ignoring Calvin's commentaries, Shedd and Dabney's sys theo vols, etc.

The argument gets more heated than our conversation with Jake and his non Calvinism.

Anonymous said...

Suggest you include in your study the 10 lecture study on definite atonement by Dr. Steve Lawson that can be found at:

Seth McBee said...

Bob...thanks for the recommendation but I have already listened to it...very informative, and at first it did seem very logical, but let me break down one of Lawson's keys to the atonement.

Lawson states:

I will say first, that I respect great Dr. Steve Lawson on this subject and many others but one that he is mistaken on is this.

He has stated that since God has a special love for some and the Holy Spirit effectually calls some then Christ must have only died for some. The unity of the Trinity argument.

But, it makes more sense, unless you are a hyper Calvinist to think:

Since God loves all, but especially loves the elect. The Holy Spirit calls all, but effectually calls the elect, then Christ died for all, especially for the elect. This is the better understanding of the unity of the Trinity.

If you have the first two: that God loves all, especially the elect and the Holy Spirit calls all, effectually for the elect and then only having Christ dying for some and not all, the Trinity is NOT in unity.

Anyway..just some thoughts.

I would appreciate your thoughts on this Bob...hope your weekend goes well.

Anonymous said...

Please, let's not start this discussion off on the wrong foot by implying that anyone who doesn't agree with your position is a Hyper-Calvinist: "But, it makes more sense, unless you are a hyper Calvinist to think:

Since God loves all, but especially loves the elect. The Holy Spirit calls all, but effectually calls the elect, then Christ died for all, especially for the elect. This is the better understanding of the unity of the Trinity." Hyper-Calvinism is such a loaded term that it can poison a good discussion such as this.

There is a degree of equality in the above quoted statement that seems to diminish the sovereignty of the Trinity. Maybe others will address that at the proper time.

Jake said...

Has anyone here looked at Justin Taylor's post where he quotes R.C. Sproul on four-point Calvinists? Sproul has a really interesting discussion about the topic... may be helpful to consider Sproul's thoughts as we continue the discussion :).

Seth McBee said...

Bob...ooops...bad wording on my part...

What I was trying to say that since God loves ALL...

Hypers say that God doesn't love the reprobate. Sorry about that.

I do believe of course, in God's special love for His elect, but I also believe that He has a love for those who are not His own.

I have read that post and you will notice in the comment section that I have had some discussion on this issue.

David Ponter said...

Hey seth,

I was thinking about your post here, some of the return comments, and Josh's dire warnings. :)

I had these thoughts. From where I sit, there are actually two issues here, a fact, and an accounting of that fact.

There is this fact: Calvin affirmed something specific with regard to Christ. But this specific affirmation was concretely denied by the later orthodox Protestant Scholastics. I believe this to be the case.

For me, I dont really need to account for this change, as I believe the first issue is, can this early affirmation to later negation be documented? If it can, then accounting for that change is secondary.

What I see tho is a lot of folk demanding that I account for this (alleged) change. That is a valid question, but only insofar as it follows an honest investigation of the documentary evidence. However, many make the accounting of the change the primary issue, and insist that one give an account of that first.

I would say, lets deal with the documentation, on its own terms, with a disciplined historical hermeneutic, and after that, we can try and postulate accounts for the theological changes post-Calvin.

I just dont see a lot of folk take the time to deal with the documentation on its own terms, first.

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