I recently made note of a new book release by Crossway entitled From Heaven He Came and Sought Her: Definite Atonement in Historical, Biblical, Theological, and Pastoral Perspective. The 700+ page volume is purported to be the definitive volume on T.U.L.I.P. Calvinism's most vulnerable petal, Limited Atonement. Some of neo-Calvinism's brightest theological lights are among the contributors, theological lights including Henri A. G. Blocher, Michael A.G. Haykin, Paul Helm, Robert Letham, Thomas R. Schreiner, Sinclair Ferguson, and Carl Trueman.
Dr. David Allen, Dean of the School of Theology, Professor of Preaching, and Director of the Center for Expository Preaching at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, has begun what will eventually be a three-part series reviewing From Heaven He Came and Sought Her. Part 1 is available now at SBC Today, a blog editorially operated by Truett-McConnell College in Cleveland, GA.
Allen begins the series by describing and then observing some deficiencies in the first section of From Heaven He Came and Sought Her: Definite Atonement in History. For example, while Dr. Michael A.G. Haykin found instances where definite atonement was "mostly from implied comments rather than direct assertion," Allen observes in response albeit "there is no overt assertion of definite atonement by any of the Patristics," there remain "several clear statements concerning universal atonement" and suggests Haykin "appears to be heavily dependent upon secondary sources like John Gill and Raymond Blacketer," ignoring other significant secondary sources while failing to deal straightforwardly with primary sources.
Furthermore, Professor David Hogg's chapter deals with Medieval theology and basically gets the ninth century monk, Gottschalk, correct concerning Limited Atonement, according to Allen. However, it seems odd for Hogg not to mention Gottschalk was thrice condemned as a heretic by three different French church councils. In addition, contra every scholar on St. Thomas Aquinas Allen can recall, not a single one argues Catholicism's most enlightened "Doctor of the Church" embraced Limited Atonement. Says Allen:
I know of no Aquinas scholar who asserts Aquinas held to the concept of definite atonement, and the primary source evidence for his adherence to universal atonement is sufficiently clear. Hogg completely fails to interact with this material. Aquinas’ method of treating passages such as 1 John 2:2 is not in the same vein as later high-Calvinists, and Hogg’s treatment of Aquinas’ reading of 1 Tim 2:4 is inadequate as it fails to note that for Aquinas, God antecedently wills the salvation of all men, not just men of all sorts.
If From Heaven He Came and Sought Her becomes the definitive statement for Limited Atonement, non-Calvinists like myself, along with the overwhelming majority of Southern Baptists, may rest assured strict Calvinists have yet to produce a convincing argument for Limited Atonement outside the narrow boundaries of their tiny theological community found in Christian history. Thus far, they apparently continue preaching to the choir.
One can read the rest of Part 1 at SBC Today.
Also be aware Dr. Allen will launch a new webpage the end of this month. Congrats Dr. Allen!