Book Review: From Heaven He Came and Sought Her

From Heaven He Came and Sought Her: Definite Atonement in Historical, Biblical, Theological, and Pastoral PerspectiveFrom Heaven He Came and Sought Her: Definite Atonement in Historical, Biblical, Theological, and Pastoral Perspective by David Gibson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I found this book an excellent resource for discussion of limited atonement or what the authors call “definite atonement.” I like their term better than the classic term. The book is essentially a reference tool. There numerous essays by different men covering the historical, Biblical, theological, and pastoral aspects of definite atonement. The book gives the reader an excellent lay of the land.

The historical views addressed are amazing. Barth, Torrance, McLeod Campbell, Davenant, Beza, Calvin, Amyraut, Owen, Baxter, Bavinck, Warfield, Driscoll, and Bruce Ware are all mentioned, as well as many others. Barth gets a lot of attention in various essays,which I found helpful because I know so little about him and his theology.

All the major passages supporting unlimited atonement are addressed. After reading the book, I am convinced the most difficult texts for definite atonement men are the passages that express a dual will, such as I Timothy 2:4. There were several essays on the Old Testament. Moyter’s on Isaiah 53 was particularly helpful.

Several points were made over and over again. First, unlimited atonement puts a dissonance between redemption accomplished and redemption applied. Several authors mention this. I believe it is thorny issue for unlimited atonement view. Second, Christ’s priestly intercession should be a larger part of the discussion. Does he intercede for those that are never saved? Can he die for those he does no function as a priest for? Third, does unlimited atonement logically end in universal accessibility to the Gospel? And if so, why do we not get that? Sinclair Ferguson’s essay on this was thought provoking. Finally, one’s views of the covenant and the Bible as a whole will influence the interpretation of specific texts. Much like any discussion of infant baptism, there must be exegesis of specific texts, but there also must be an understanding of the entire scope of Scripture.

Each of the essays could be a book. Therefore they are not in-depth. But they orient the reader to the major players, major texts, and major theological questions in the debate. This book is not a thorough discussion of the atonement. But it is an excellent introduction to one question related to the atonement: For whom to Christ die? It will be a valuable resource for any minister or theological student.

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