Archive for December, 2013

Review, part 3: “From Heaven He Came and Sought Her.”

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by Dr. David L. Allen
Dean of the School of Theology
Professor of Preaching
Director of the Center for Expository Preaching
George W. Truett Chair of Pastoral Ministry
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

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“Review of From Heaven He Came and Sought Her: Definite Atonement in Historical, Biblical, Theological, and Pastoral Perspective, David Gibson & Jonathan Gibson, eds. (Wheaton: Crossway, 2013) – Part 2

(Read “Review, part 1,” HERE.)
(Read “Review, part 2,” HERE.)

In this final summary review, I will cover the section on definite atonement in theological perspective. Since I am well over the limit for this post, I will have to address the final pastoral section of the book, along with the foreword, preface, and introduction, at a later time.
A more detailed analysis of many of the chapters in the volume will appear later this month on my new website www.DrDavidLAllen.com.

Definite Atonement: Theological Perspective

There is much helpful material in the theological perspective chapters. Probably the most significant is the attempted interaction with the Amyraldian and Hypothetical Universalism views within the orbit of Reformed theology. This is commendable and opens the door for further dialogue to occur. However, this interaction is not without its problems, as there appear to be a fair amount of misunderstanding and mis-characterization of these positions.

When one examines the arguments made by the authors in the theological section, certain common key presuppositions become evident. At the risk of oversimplification, I see these to be:

1. The notion that God’s intention in the atonement (to save the elect) entails a limitation in Christ’s sin-bearing such that there is an imputation of the sins of the elect only to Christ at the cross. Limited intent entails limited extent.
2. God’s salvific intention is expressed in the divine decree of election, and election entails the notion that atonement is only made for the sins of the elect. Election entails limited extent.
3. Penal substitution entails limited extent.
4. Hypothetical Universalism in all forms entails Trinitarian discord.
5. Old Testament priestly typology entails New Testament definite atonement.
6. There are only two options: either definite atonement or universalism.

Macleod’s chapter addresses definite atonement and the divine decree. After dealing with Supralapsarianism and Infralapsarianism as versions of predestinarianism, he turns to a discussion of Hypothetical Universalism and election (422-434).

One troubling feature of this chapter is what appears to be Macleod’s misunderstanding of HU. In a discussion on the importance of not trying to pry into the imponderables of God’s secret will but rather engage in indiscriminate preaching, he notes that Hypothetical Universalists fare no better than their high-Calvinist counterparts: “Hypothetical Universalism provided no solution. How could they put their trust in a hypothetical redemption? How could they believe at all unless they were elected to faith?” (431). Macleod’s first question appears to misunderstand just what it is that is “hypothetical” in Hypothetical Universalism. For all HUs, the atonement is not hypothetical for the non-elect, it is actual. What is hypothetical is the conditionality of faith: if anyone believes, he shall be saved based on the fact that there is an atonement for sin. Conditionality is operative in all orthodox Christian approaches to salvation: faith is a necessity. With respect to the second question, as Calvinists, all HUs believe in election and the necessity of effectual calling.

Macleod asks: “Is it not fatally incoherent that God should simultaneously decree that the cross of Christ should redeem all the non-elect and provide him with grounds for their greater condemnation?” (434). It did not seem so to Calvin, who states this very point.[1]

Robert Letham contributes a chapter entitled “The Triune God, Incarnation, and Definite Atonement.” The chief burden of his chapter is to demonstrate that all forms of universal atonement create Trinitarian disharmony (439). Letham lumps Amyraldians with Arminians when he states that “the atoning death of Christ does not of itself secure the salvation of anyone in particular, since it is contingent on the human response in the case of Arminianism or on the particular work of the Spirit in terms of Amyraldianism. Moreover, since the atonement is not intrinsically efficacious, it cannot yield a doctrine of penal substitution” (440).

This statement is problematic on two counts. First, note the operative phrase “of itself.” Interestingly, I recall Charles Hodge and W. G. T. Shedd stating that the atonement “of itself” secures the salvation of no one.[2] No one is saved until, through the work of the Holy Spirit, they are brought to faith in Christ. This again confuses extent with application. Second, it is incorrect to argue that lack of intrinsic efficacy negates penal substitution. Letham may be slipping into the web of a commercialistic view of the atonement here.

It appears Letham assumes that, for Amyraut, Christ died equally for all in terms of intent as well as extent (438-440). This is true for Arminians but not true for Amyraut and his followers. When Amyraut spoke of Christ dying “equally’ for all, it is clear he meant that his death was equally sufficient for all, not in the sense of intention. Amyraut believed Christ died with the special intent of saving only the elect.[3

Letham’s critique of T. F. Torrance scores some points, but some things should be noted. First, Letham may disagree that the incarnation, for Torrance, entails an atonement for all humans (447), but let’s not forget that this was the general position of the Church Fathers and the medieval church. Second, Letham is correct to note Torrance’s error in claiming Calvin rejected the Lombardian formula, but then errs himself when he concludes from this that Calvin held to definite atonement. This fails to take into account the revision of the formula after Calvin’s death by supporters of definite atonement (see previous reviews).

Finally, Letham’s assessment of Davenant’s position (444) appears to be incorrect. Davenant taught, on the basis of 2 Cor 5:18-20, that God was reconciled to the world objectively, but not all people in the world are subjectively reconciled to God. Davenant’s understanding of this universal provision did not “overshadow” God’s decree to save the elect. Letham is arguing that Davenant’s construct entails conflict and incoherence, but Davenant is arguing that the Trinity acts in unity to accomplish a dual intent in atonement and redemption.

Garry Williams writes the next two chapters on penal substitution and the double payment argument. The upshot of these two chapters is an attempt to argue the point that penal substitution entails definite atonement and that the double payment argument (that God cannot demand payment for sin twice) is a valid construct and supports definite atonement.

First rattle out of the box, Williams comes across as a bit condescending when he states his chapter is “. . . simply intended to show brothers that at this point they are wrong, . . .” Perhaps it would have been better to word this along the lines of showing brothers “reasons why  perhaps they may be wrong in their assessment.”

In his critique of Broughton Knox, Williams discusses distinctions between intent, extent, and application (471). The non-sequitur is his statement “The separation is unsustainable: with an ontology that gives proper place to the constitutive role of God’s will, the prior, determinative divine intention for the sufferings of Christ makes them what they are and thus makes them definite in nature.” This is an assertion with no support.

Williams attempts to show that in the HU approach, the suffering of Christ is not “identifiable as punishment for the sin and sins of particular persons . . . (471). The NT use of  “sin” singular (generic) and “sins” plural (specific) indicates that the use of one form does not exclude the other. Rightly so. His conclusion, however, does not follow: “Although none of these NT writers were self-consciously addressing our question, they evidently held that Jesus died bearing specific sins committed by particular people” (474). We will consider this issue in Williams’ next chapter.

Williams concludes his first chapter with a false either/or, statement: “An indefinite atonement must either embrace universalism or it must contradict the biblical doctrine of penal substitution” (481). This conclusion does not seem to be warranted given the evidence in the chapter.

Williams’ next chapter addresses the double payment argument. Classically formulated by John Owen, the double payment argument asserts that God’s justice does not allow the same sin to be punished twice, first in Christ and then in the sinner. Owen’s defense of this argument employs a commercialistic understanding of the atonement, for which he has been rightly criticized by Calvinists and non-Calvinists alike. The gist for Owen is that “debt” language in Scripture moves beyond the metaphor and actually describes the mechanism for the payment of sin. Owen and Williams assume that since the satisfaction is for “sins” plural, and not for “sin” in abstraction, that it therefore must be definite (limited to only the elect). The transaction is commercial: so much is owed and so much is paid. If Christ paid for all sins, then God cannot demand a second payment from any sinner. Seems like an open and shut case.

Here are the problems. The metaphor is pushed beyond its legitimate point of analogy and becomes, for Owen and Williams’, the actual mechanism whereby sin is paid for. Williams’ dependence upon Owen’s treatment of the parable of the Unforgiving Servant in Matt 18 leads him to misinterpret the point of the parable. The context of the parable is not atonement but forgiveness between brothers by way of a commercial debt metaphor. The point of the parable is the mechanism for forgiveness, not the mechanism for satisfaction of sins.

Williams concludes that Christ’s satisfaction is a “repayment.” The mistake is viewing God as a creditor from the fact that sin is metaphorically described as a debt. Sin as debt is about obligation, not about the death of Christ being a payment to a creditor (God).

As part of his argument, Williams posits that it is “both possible and necessary to hold together the idea of an unquantifiable punishment and an inherently definite atonement” (499). Recall Williams’ conclusion in his previous chapter that only “sins” were laid on Christ at the cross, not “sin” generically. This is fundamentally an unnecessary and even flawed bifurcation. No one claims that Christ dies for “sin” without dying for “sins.” Of course Jesus did not die for some abstract notion of sin. He died for real people; all of them. He accomplished this by becoming “sin” for us (2 Cor 5:21). Christ died for “the one and the many,” for “sins” and for “sin.”

Like Owen, Williams appears to be operating from a sort of transference view of imputation: specific guilt for specific sins is laid on Christ. But this is problematic. While our sins are imputed to Christ, before our conversion we remain under the wrath of God as Paul states in Eph 2:1-3. As Dabney says, God holds the unbelieving elect subject to wrath until they believe.[4] It would appear that Williams fails to address this objection by Dabney that the living unbelieving elect are under the wrath of God.

Second, would Owen consider the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to believers as the transference of so many acts of law-keeping? It would seem not. Are believers credited with specific acts of righteousness on Christ’s part? No, we are credited with a quality of righteousness. All of Christ’s acts of obedience fall under the somewhat abstract class of “righteousness.” Just as believers are not imputed with something like so many bits of righteousness but rather with righteousness, so also Christ was not imputed with “sin-bits” but rather with sin in a comprehensive way. He was treated as though he were sinful. Owen, and it would seem Williams as well, has a faulty notion of imputation. Christ died one death that all sinners deserve under the law. In paying the penalty of what one sinner deserves, he paid the penalty of what every sinner deserves. He suffered the curse of the law as defined by the law. Owen’s double payment and trilemma arguments undermine the true meaning of imputation and operate on the assumption of the transference of specific sins.

Charles Hodge, in contrast, has retained the proper understanding of imputation:

What was suitable for one was suitable for all. The righteousness of Christ, the merit of his obedience and death, is needed for justification by each individual of our race, and therefore is needed by all. It is no more appropriate to one man than to another. Christ fulfilled the conditions of the covenant under which all men were placed. He rendered the obedience required of all, and suffered the penalty which all had incurred; and therefore his work is equally suited to all.[5]

Williams is at odds with Hodge.

Finally, Williams trades on the false dilemma fallacy when he asserts: “If God punishes all sin, then Christ must have died for the sin of unbelief, and if he did that for all without exception, then all without exception must be saved.”

Stephen Wellum addresses the subject of priesthood, atonement, and intercession in an effort to demonstrate that only definite atonement takes account of Christ’s unified priestly work: Christ only dies for the sins of those for whom he intercedes. For Wellum, all general atonement views fragment Christ’s priestly work of offering and intercession (530).

Wellum’s appeal to the typology of Christ as our High Priest simply cannot carry the freight he wishes to place on it. Caution should be exercised so as not to read categories of “elect” and “non-elect” from the New Testament back into the OT. Neither should we read OT categories of the sacrificial system into the NT unless we have specific biblical justification to do so.

While Wellum considers objections from contemporary scholars, I do not see where he addresses the critique of his position made long ago by the likes of Baxter and Bunyan.

Space considerations limit me to speaking specifically to one of the arguments: the supposition that if Jesus’ intercession (John 17) is limited to the elect, then he only dies for the sins of his elect. But nowhere in the text itself does it state that Jesus dies only for those for whom He prays, let alone the fact that John 17 makes no mention of the death of Christ at all. Laying aside for the moment the possibility that in context this is most likely a reference to the disciples, and even taking it as extending to the believing elect at the time, even then one is not warranted to draw the conclusion that the text means that Jesus did not die for the sins of all people, elect and non-elect. Wellum falls prey to generalizing that election entails limited atonement. The mistake here is a collapsing of the intercession of Christ into His expiation for sins. This merely begs the question.[6]

Henri Blocher’s chapter on constructing a systematic theology of definite atonement rounds out the theological section, and appropriately so since he attempts to develop something of a systematic theology of definite atonement.

I am especially grateful that Blocher engages my critique of definite atonement at numerous points in his chapter. Though there is much with which to engage here, I shall only select two or three points.

Blocher asks where the decisive difference lies between HU and DA:

In the relationship with election. Is the purpose of the atonement identical for all, elect and reprobate? Hypothetical Universalism answers yes; definite atonement answers no. Or, in the transaction that took place on the cross, which is described by such phrases as “bearing sins,” “satisfying divine justice,” “paying the ransom-price,” are the reprobate included as well as the elect? Hypothetical Universalism: Yes; definite atonement: no. Or, did atonement secure eternal life in such a way that those for whom it was accomplished according to its main purpose and operation shall infallibly receive it at the end? Definite atonement, yes; Hypothetical Universalism: no (548-49).

With respect to the first question, it is not accurate to say that HU asserts the purpose of the atonement is identical for all. The extent of the atonement is identical for all, but the intent (purpose) according to HU is the same as with DA: to secure the salvation of the elect. With respect to the third question it is also inaccurate to state that HU does not affirm that the atonement secures eternal life “according to its main purpose” since supporters of HU affirm that this is accomplished in the application on the grounds of both God’s intent and the atonement’s extent.

Blocher also appears to misread both Andrew Fuller and Charles Hodge, whom he assigns to the DA camp, in disagreement with my placing them in the HU camp.[7] Blocher thinks many of my quotations “fail to convince because the flexibility of the language used by definite atonement supporters is not recognized…” (551).

Actually it is the other way around. Blocher fails to recognize flexibility of the dualism of “intent” and “extent” in these names I provided. He confuses Hodge’s clear statement about Christ’s sin-bearing for the world with the issue of the universal offer (554). For Hodge, it is the universal nature of the atonement that grounds the universal offer, which is Hodge’s point in the very quotation Blocher cites (555). Hodge clearly states that though Christ did not die “equally” for all men (Arminianism), yet he died for his “sheep” and “Church,” (Calvinism) and “He did all that was necessary, so far as a satisfaction to justice is concerned, all that is required for the salvation of all men.” (Hypothetical Universalism). If Christ’s death accomplished “all that is required for the salvation of all men,” then it cannot be a limited substitution as in the definite atonement scheme. Hodge affirmed Christ’s universal sin-bearing.[8]

Blocher offers an inadequate response to Gary Schultz’s point about the gospel content of Paul’s kerygma to the unconverted Corinthians: “Christ died for our sins” in 1 Cor 15:1-3. He attempts two defeaters: 1) Paul does not reproduce the wording verbatim; 2) “for us” may have meant Paul’s team and any who would join them. This statement by Paul clearly implies he preached Christ died for the sins of all.

Conclusion

While the book will likely be too much for some laypeople to digest, I would encourage all theological students, pastors, and scholars to take the time to read it and digest it. It is probably the most comprehensive defense of definite atonement available. On the surface, it looks formidable, but it has a soft underbelly and is vulnerable to a number of criticisms.

It only takes one clear statement in Scripture that Christ died for the sins of all people to confirm unlimited atonement no matter how many statements indicate Christ died for a specific group of people. Likewise, it would only take one clear statement in Scripture that Christ died only for the sins of the elect to confirm definite atonement. There is not one single statement in Scripture that overtly states Christ died only for the sins of the elect. There are easily a dozen New Testament Scriptures overtly stating Christ died for all people.

The burden is on the authors of this book to prove that a simple positive statement can entail a universal negation. This is the book’s claim. The hill which the authors must climb is to prove, exegetically from Scripture, that Christ died only for some people’s sins (a limited imputation of sin). If exegetically, DA fails, then no amount of theological flying buttresses will support it.


[1] Calvin, Sermons on Isaiah, 141.

[2] Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, 2:557-58. W. G. T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, 3:418.

[3] See http://calvinandcalvinism.com/?p=2293.

[4] Dabney, Lectures in Systematic Theology, 521.

[5] Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993), 2:545.

[6] For the exegetical argument that Jesus prayed both for the elect and for the world, interested readers might consult Harold Dekker’s analysis of John 17 in, “God’s Love to Sinners — One or Two?,” The Reformed Journal 13 (March 1963), 14-15. Dekker was formerly professor and Academic Dean at Calvin Theological Seminary. See also Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971), 725, who argues the same point.

[7] For the evidence that the later Fuller came to reject limited atonement, see Peter Morden, Offering Christ to the World: Andrew Fuller and the Revival of Eighteenth Century Particular Baptist Life, vol. 8, Studies in Baptist History and Thought (Waynesboro, GA: Paternoster, 2003), 26-27. See also my “Preaching for a Great Commission Resurgence,” 292-94, in Great Commission Resurgence, eds. Lawless & Greenway (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2010).

[8] Notice also how Dabney, Hodge’s contemporary, cites Hodge as affirming universal expiation. Robert Dabney, Lectures in Systematic Theology, 527.

Defined by a former Calvinist: “A Better Gospel”

Ronnie Rogers is senior pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Norman, Okla.

by Ronnie Rogers, pastor
Trinity Baptist Church
Norman, Okla.

The good news according to Calvinism is to be proclaimed to everyone everywhere, but it is not good news for everyone who hears. I believe the gospel according to Jesus presents a better gospel.

To many it appears that Calvinists, Arminians, Molinists, Traditionalists, etc., all believe the same thing about the gospel while merely differing on tertiaries. Consequently, they quite understandably retort, “Why all of this wasteful bickering; let us just preach the gospel.” I wholeheartedly agree that we can all communicate the gospel message so that anyone and everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved; therefore, we should do so and applaud all endeavors at such. I also emphatically believe that non-Calvinists and Calvinists can be evangelistic.

However, I do think it is incumbent upon Christians to make clear that, even though these things are true, the differences between Calvinists’ and non-Calvinists’ perspectives regarding salvation do in fact influence the evangelistic and missionary endeavor. This influence is even determinative of what one can and cannot say to a lost and hell-bound world or a lost and hell-bound individual with whom we communicate the gospel.

These differences are not tertiary as some claim, for they do in fact change the raison d’etre (reason for being or existence) of the gospel, the purpose for sharing the gospel, the language used in communicating the gospel, and the nature of our passion derived from the gospel. Thus, these dissimilarities are substantial. So much so that they actually and unavoidably define the missiology of the church; accordingly, they are not tertiary, all asseverations to the contrary notwithstanding. Our differences even affect our understanding of arguably the most well-known, lucid, humbling, awe inspiring verse regarding the gospel and mission of evangelizing (John 3:16).

The well-known five-point Calvinist, John Piper, asked the question, “What message would missionaries rather take than the message: Be glad in God! Rejoice in God! Sing for joy in God! …God loves to exalt himself by showing mercy to sinners.” My answer to this question is the truth that when someone hears this glorious message, that same someone has a chance, by the grace and mercy of God, to receive the truth of the message by faith. Further, without opportunity for all sinners to accept, Piper’s message should be changed to say, “Some can be glad in God if He predestined you” or “God loves to exalt Himself by showing mercy to some sinners.” This is the actual message of Calvinism, and everyone who understands Calvinism knows it. Unfortunately, it is popularly and ubiquitously stated in the manner cited by Piper (or similarly opaque phrases) that shield most from yet another disquieting reality of Calvinism. I would greatly appreciate Calvinists’ due diligence to speak in such a way that all can be reminded of this reality (as some Calvinists are very careful to do). To propose that this distinction is tertiary is baffling indeed.

There is an abstractness to Calvinism’s understanding of the gospel, which results in a concomitant chilling unfriendliness of the “good news” when shared one on one. For example, it is one thing to say God loves Canada and desires the gospel to go there, or that He desires for Canadians to be saved. It is quite another for the missionary to look into the eyes of a lost and perishing Canadian and say God loves you and desires you to receive the good news of the gospel, which is the friendliness of the gospel in Scripture. The former has an abstract quality about it that the latter does not have (like the difference between saying I love Canadians and then really loving the one who moves in next door). A Calvinist can say, “Believe in Jesus for the remission of sins,” but there is a secret aloofness imbedded in the invitation for the vast majority of individuals who hear the gospel; an aloofness the Calvinist is very aware of and staunchly committed to.

Further, this abstract quality of Calvinism is the provenance of the “good faith offer,” which is reflective of Calvinism’s different understanding of the gospel. I for one find neither this abstraction, with its secret indifference for the majority of individuals who hear the gospel, nor the suggestion of such a concept as a “good faith offer” in the scriptural presentations of the gospel

This abstract quality transforms the simple straightforward gospel as seen in Scriptures from being exoteric (available to all) into an esoteric gospel (only available to some). The exoteric gospel of Scripture calls upon every individual with whom we share to receive the gospel and gives every indication that he should and can believe; that is to say, it is authentically and dependably what it appears to be, the good news of God’s love and compassion offered to all who hear.

Whereas the esoteric gospel according to Calvinism says everyone should come, but the secret is that while God has told Calvinists to tell the lost man to come, be forgiven, and flee the wrath to come, the inner circle—Calvinists—know that God has been pleased to exclude most individuals to whom the Calvinist present this truth. Therefore, if one is to be consistent with Calvinism, the gospel must be protectingly presented so that the hearer believes that God loves him and truly desires for him to be delivered from the fiery cauldron of God’s eternal fury; something no Calvinist can say to any particular individual unless God inspires him to intuit that the lost man to whom he is witnessing is one of God’s elect.

Actually, according to Calvinism, the gospel is good news for some, but inherent in their understanding of the gospel is that for most with whom they speak the good news, it is the ghastliest horror one could ever imagine (whether a sinner desires to believe or not does nothing to palliate this point). That being the case, one may rightly question the righteous legitimacy of indiscriminately declaring a gospel so construed that, in any way, intimates that it is for all who hear because it is emphatically not; something every good Calvinist knows. To wit, if a Calvinist shares the gospel in such a way that the hearers believe that God loves them, desires for them to repent and be saved by faith in Jesus, something that by God’s grace they can do, then the Calvinist has been true to the Scripture but not to Calvinism; additionally, is there not a point when “a good faith offer” is transmogrified into an “ungodly deception?” One that Calvinists can avoid by determinedly shunning any semblance of offering, via precisely chosen guarded language, what the Calvinist is convinced does not exist. Or is the concept of “a good faith offer” an unchallengeably justifiable and un-fillable reservoir for storing gospel secrets of Calvinism? I am simply asking Calvinists to be clear in presenting what they so doggedly believe to be the whole good news, and I do not think that is too much to ask.

Non-Calvinists follow the scriptural pattern of presenting the good news as good news for everyone who hears because, by God’s loving grace, they should and can believe; if they choose to reject, which they do not have to do, they will forfeit being adopted as a child of God and succumb to a sinner’s just dessert. This is based upon a clear, simple, and straight-forward reading of the clearest presentations of the gospel and the declared nature of God. Calvinism’s understanding of the gospel disallows any meaningfully eternal difference in the gospel if they simply said, “God hates you and has a terrible plan for you because the elect will get saved and the non-elect will not.” For Calvinists to respond that they are sharing the gospel out of obedience is not a solution to the problem I pose, but rather it is symptomatic of it. Further, for a Calvinist to rely upon such an idea as “a good faith offer” does nothing to absolve God from intentionally obscuring His real plan.

The gospel according to Calvinism is that the gospel that is commanded to be preached to all, is presented as available to all with an urgency that it be received by all, yet it cannot be received by all who hear the wonderful message of love and forgiveness; even though its universal availability is the obvious inference any listener would draw based upon most Calvinists’ carefully guarded presentation of the gospel (guarding the divulgence of the secret limitations of the gospel according to Calvinism).

Actually, the doctrine of selective regeneration preceding faith dictates that the gospel—good news— is really not good news at all because it cannot be received by anyone who just hears the good news, and this unavailability is just as true for the elect as the non-elect. Reception of the gospel is divinely limited to the selectively regenerated; therefore, the primary good news of Calvinism is not the gospel, but rather that some to whom they speak are on the secret list of those who have been selected for regeneration, which results in receiving the good news—gospel. That is to say, according to Calvinism, the gospel is not the good news to be received by all or any listener, but rather a description of the benefits that will be bestowed upon those on the secret list. Simply put, the gospel according to Scripture is a better gospel than the gospel according to Calvinism.

 

Truett-McConnell announces Master of Theology, Fall 2014

sbctoday_new_logo_550

SACS approves Master’s degrees
for Truett-McConnell College
by Norm Miller

CLEVELAND, Ga. (TMNews)—Officials at Truett-McConnell College in Cleveland, Ga., announced its intent to offer Master’s degrees following approval by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Dec. 10.

“The hand of God we attempt to follow has in turn blessed us in this expansion of our academic training and spiritual influence. We are elated to announce the launch of our graduate degree program for fall 2014,” said Truett-McConnell’s president, Dr. Emir Caner.

“This addition to our academic offerings is a response to the near-miraculous growth of the college,” Caner said. Since 2008, the school has grown from about 450 students to more than 1,600.

Read more, HERE.

Review, part 2: “From Heaven He Came and Sought Her.”

DavidAllen2

Ed.’s note: All comments will be pre-moderated, meaning that each comment will post after moderator approval.
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by Dr. David L. Allen
Dean of the School of Theology
Professor of Preaching
Director of the Center for Expository Preaching
George W. Truett Chair of Pastoral Ministry
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Learn more about Dr. Allen, HERE.
Follow @DavidLAllen on Twitter
HERE.

Follow on Facebook HERE.

“Review of From Heaven He Came and Sought Her: Definite Atonement in Historical, Biblical, Theological, and Pastoral Perspective, David Gibson & Jonathan Gibson, eds. (Wheaton: Crossway, 2013) – Part 2
(Read “Review, part 1,” HERE.)
Part 2 of this review will address the key elements of the six chapters in the biblical section.
A detailed assessment of each of these sections awaits a multi-part review I intend to post on my new website www.DrDavidLAllen.com, which will be launched later this month.

Definite Atonement in the Bible

These chapters all focus on the biblical data impinging on the question at hand. Key to most of them is the attempt to argue that the so called “universal” language in atonement passages such as “all” or “world” do not mean “all without exception” but “all without distinction,” and, conjoined with the Reformed doctrine of unconditional election, indicate Christ’s death for elect people of all nations, Jews and Gentiles. The authors read the “universal” texts (“all,” “world,” etc.) in light of the “limited” texts (“his people,” “the church,” etc.), and are thus forced to mitigate the meaning of words like “all” and “world.” Moderate Calvinists and non-Calvinists read the limited texts as a subset of the universal texts.

Read more ...

Review, part 1: “From Heaven He Came and Sought Her.”

DavidAllen2

Ed.’s note: All comments will be pre-moderated, meaning that each comment will post after moderator approval.
==================================================================================

by Dr. David L. Allen
Dean of the School of Theology
Professor of Preaching
Director of the Center for Expository Preaching
George W. Truett Chair of Pastoral Ministry
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Learn more about Dr. Allen, HERE.
Follow @DavidLAllen on Twitter
HERE.

Follow on Facebook HERE.

“Review of From Heaven He Came and Sought Her: Definite Atonement in Historical, Biblical, Theological, and Pastoral Perspective, David Gibson & Jonathan Gibson, eds. (Wheaton: Crossway, 2013) – Part 1

As one who is currently completing a manuscript for publication on the subject of the extent of the atonement, I have long awaited the appearance of From Heaven He Came and Sought Her. The book has been touted as the “definitive” scholarly word on definite (limited) atonement. David Gibson and Jonathan Gibson serve as editors of the work which includes 23 chapters written by a cadre of scholars. The book is a lengthy tome of 703 pages, including indices, published by Crossway. Twenty-one authors from a variety of backgrounds (including Presbyterian, Anglican and Baptist) contribute chapters. As with any multi-author volume, the chapters ebb and flow as to content, style, and substance. 

Read more ...