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Book Review – Perspectives on the Extent of the Atonement


Book Review – Perspectives on the Extent of the Atonement

The Atonement is kind of a big deal in Christian theology. Very loosely defined, it is what Christ did on the cross making it possible for unholy people to be reconciled to a holy God. One of the questions surrounding the atonement of Christ is the extent to which it applies. That is what this book is about. Perspectives on the extent of the atonement does not dabble in other controversies surrounding the atonement. It’s focus is not what the atonement means or how it as accomplished, but rather who is it who receives the benefit of Christ’s substitutionary and atoning work.

The format of the book is the familiar point/counterpoint format. On a personal note, next to the personal relationships nothing has had as big an influence on my own theology than theology books which present multiple views and allow for the authors to respond to each view. This has done more than merely present the pros and cons of each view, it has taught me that earnest God fearing believers can love the same God, look at the same text and be just as committed to the authority of scripture and still see things differently. This has had a tremendous influence on my own demeanor when discussing an issue with another believer in which there is disagreement. It has also led me to appreciate the Reformation doctrine of sola scriptura. This is because I have seen first hand how the spirit of Christ can be elevated above a theological dispute by respecting those who disagree on the “non essentials”. If two people can agree on the authority of the scriptures they have a built in fence in which to explore theology without turning wayward.

Perspectives on the Extent of the Atonement is a fine example of this being played out in the real world. The three presenters have sharp disagreements and yet are amiable and share a love for one another and for Christ.

It will come as no surprise that I agree more with Carl Trueman’s presentation than the other two. However, I gained a greater respect for the non- Reformed position by hearing Osborne’s articulation of the general application of the atonement. This is the value of this format. Perspectives on the Atonement is a great choice for those who wish to gain a greater understanding of a position on the atonement which they do not hold.

Click here to purchase Perspectives on the Extent of the Atonement at Christian Books or here to purchase at Amazon.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from B&H Academic in exchange for an online review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

About the Editors

Andrew David Naselli is assistant professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology at Bethlehem College and Seminary, research manager for D. A. Carson, and administrator of Themelios.

Mark A. Snoeberger is associate professor of Systematic Theology at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary.

5 thoughts on “Book Review – Perspectives on the Extent of the Atonement

  1. I love these books too Aaron! I just enjoy reading a good debate instead of people arguing about things never said, accusing of ridiculous things and faking like they know stuff. You know, like Trump.

  2. Dustin Jennings

    Does this deal at all with universalism? I think I’m leaning this direction. A universal atonement to uphold God’s mercy.

    • Dustin, The three presenters assume an orthodox view of the atonement in this book so the answer depends on what you mean by universal atonement. Osborne defends a view that the atonement is universal in its extent but limited in its application. None of the presenters adhere to a universal salvation. Osborne would definitely not say that because in his view the atonement offered to everyone is contingent upon each individual accepting the offer.

  3. Dustin Jennings

    I was thinking more along the lines of universal salvation as a testimony to God’s love and mercy. When I read the Old Testament I see a God who is all justice and no mercy, but the tone is different in the New Testament so much so that mercy is all we really see. So I’d like to explore universalism and see where it leads.

    • Dustin, In that case, no. You will not find universal salvation taught in this book and for good reason. I have read a few books from universalists and I don’t recommend any of them.

      To address your comments on the God of the Old Testament vs. New Testament, I think you will find plenty of mercy from God in the OT and plenty justice in the NT.

      What is it that you mean when you say that you lean toward universalism because of God’s mercy? Are you not able to reconcile God’s mercy with his justice so they are at odds? Help me understand. Thanks Dustin.

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