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Debbie Kaufman

It seems to encompass all that I believe the Bible teaches on this subject. It would be a book I would recommend and would use. I have no problem with it and in fact welcome this book. Definite atonement is beautiful in my view.

Norm Miller

Amazing. 700 pages to subvert John 1.29; 3.16; 1 John 2.2; and a host of other verses. It is beyond me why such erudite men would embrace and propogate a man-made theology that necessitates eisegesis. Perhaps 'Amazing' is not the word to describe the book.

peter lumpkins


I assure you they will deal with the texts you mention. And, I also assure you they will deal with them not as texts per se. That is texts from which to glean any major contribution to understanding the death of Jesus. Rather John 1:29, 3:16, 1 John 2:2. 1 Tim 2:4, 1 Peter 2:1, etc. will be dealt with as problem texts. In other words, as objections to Limited Atonement not as enlightenment toward biblical atonement.

Paul Owen

Piper's opening comment made me queasy. When we think of the atonement more as a doctrine to show how much smarter we are than an event in history, something has gone awry. I definitely hold to certain beliefs about the atonement (it was the sacrifice of the God-man, for the whole world, in our place, on our behalf), but I do not think the atonement is exciting or wonderful (Piper is almost quivering as he reverently whispers, "700 pages on the definite...atonement") because of any particular esoteric theory about it. To gaze in wonder at definite atonement, or to declare how glorious this speculative theory is, comes dangerously close to idolatry. You might as well write 700 pages on supralapsarianism. It is sad to see older theologians still playing in the sandbox of cage stage Calvinism. I have no big concern with definite atonement (though I disagree with how most modern Calvinists formulate it), but this is at best a footnote in the landscape of historic Reformed theology.

David (NAS) Rogers

Why did they begin the book after the introduction with discussion about the view in Church history? Why wouldn't the biblical case be much more important as the foundation of the analysis?

Could it be a subtle framing of the discussion? Look at all the heavyweights who hold this. Now let's look at the Bible.

Ben Simpson

Awesome! I'm excited to get a copy. It is indeed a beautiful, biblical doctrine!

Norm Miller

Perhaps the book is not so much to convince those who reject Calvinism altogether, but is an attempt to settle the debate within the Calvin's camp that Calvin did not espouse limited atonement. I think you, Peter, have posted on this blog several citations from the 'Institutes' that Calvin's TULIP lacks the 'L' per Calvin himself.

Ben Simpson

I'm also glad to see three Southern Baptists contribute to the book: Tom Schreiner, Michael Haykin, and Steve Wellum.

peter lumpkins


There are several passages in Calvin which seem to indicate his reservation about the limitedness of atonement. And, several scholars on Calvin's belief have raised the issue as well.

Also, David Allen has a volume on the atonement due out sometime in 2014. He plans to engage this new definitive study on Limited Atonement.

Ben Simpson

If Dr Allen is putting out a volume on Limited Atonement, then Tony Byrne has a lot of work to do.


I continue to be amazed that so many otherwise brilliant men just don't get it! It's a crying shame that we are losing a generation of young Southern Baptists to this movement. Their attraction to the cast of characters who are leading influencers of New Calvinism is approaching idolatry. Piper Points, Driscoll Drivel, and Mohler Moments spread through social media like wildfire. When will this madness end?!! God's plan of salvation should never be reduced to a secondary or tertiary tier in anybody's triage ... or a systematic theology crafted by the aberrant Biblical eisegesis of men. Good Lord, is there no longer any spiritual discernment and boldness amongst SBC leaders to speak correction into the ails of New Calvinism within our ranks?! The "Calvinism Committee" failed to protect and preserve majority Southern Baptist belief and practice. This agree to disagree, go along to get along, make room for diverse theologies under one big tent nonsense will bring an end to a once great denomination and its evangelistic thrust.

Andrew Barker

Is there any 'particular' reason for using the term definite atonement rather than limited atonement? Either way, if you want to argue that the death of Jesus was not meant for 'all' men, then the effects are definitely limited.

I suspect that those who are expressing such wonder and joy at this doctrine either have no immediate relatives who are not Christians or perhaps just cannot empathise with others who rather wonder why God would not make such a wonderful gift freely available to all?

Of course we could all sing a few verses of soli deo gloria a few times. I'm sure we'll feel better for it!

peter lumpkins


My guess is you meant that to be funny. Nonetheless it's insulting. What is more, you need to get your head out of what we call in Georgia a big bucket o' dumb if you think all these fat-cat heady types write or research all their own stuff. I work for some of them. I ought to know...

Ben Simpson


Everybody, except for Universalists, limits the atonement at some point. Obviously, the word "limited" has negative connotations with it. It's for that reason alone that most folks who hold to this doctrine jettison that label. I personally prefer "particular atonement."

As for your suspicion that those who rejoice in the doctrine of particular atonement (PA) have no lost loved ones or can't empathize with others who question why God would not pay for everybody's sins, I would say the following. First, they undoubtedly do have lost loved ones for whom they pray regularly and share the gospel with regularly. They long to see them saved but nevertheless are bound by the what they understand the Bible to teach and therefore, hold to PA.

Second, you imply a great question in the second part of your statement: why wouldn't God pay for everybody's sins? However, your point was about empathy. I have no trouble believing that those who hold to PA can empathize with those who can't imagine God not paying for everybody's sins.

Ben Simpson

"Bucket o' dumb"... LOL! Y'all have the best phrases down there, Peter. I'll have to introduce that one to Tennessee.


When you post

"This agree to disagree, go along to get along, make room for diverse theologies under one big tent nonsense will bring an end to a once great denomination and its evangelistic thrust."

Are you saying that the theologies of Calvinist, whether in reformed Baptist or YRR, leads to a diminished evangelistic thrust?

Andrew Barker

Ben Simpson: You've side-stepped my point. Limited atonement? Who limits it Ben? If you don't like the word limited, then for whom is atonement definite Ben?

Ben Simpson


You had two questions in your first comment, and I answered both of them.

The only serious declarative sentence you had was this: "...if you want to argue that the death of Jesus was not meant for 'all' men, then the effects are definitely limited." I don't disagree with what you've said here.

So, side-step I did not. If you actually want to make a point, I'll be glad to take it on.


Eric - I'm saying that the current debate in SBC ranks is distracting the denomination (regardless of theological persuasion) from its past evangelistic zeal. I just don't see the passion in pulpit and pew which I once did (I speak from a 50+ year tenure in SBC). Too much mixture in the camp and its associated theological noise ... and not enough feet in the hedges and byways proclaiming the Gospel which saves.


We are spending too much time talking about theology at the expense of putting boots on the ground and spreading the gospel?

Andrew Barker

Ben Simpson: Straight question... For whom in particular is the atonement definite?

peter lumpkins

Not Ben, Andrew, but surely he'd say the atonement was definite for everybody, would he not? For the elect, the atonement definitely saved them. Not savability procured but absolute salvation secured. And, for the non-elect, it just as definitely secured their fate in hell since it procured no possibility of parole or freedom. Only condemnation. That's the beauty of it! Definite atonement is universal in its definite-ness...

(yes, I'm being facetious, but it's really quite close to how it is :^)

Ben Simpson

From both a conditional & an unconditional electionist viewpoint, the answer to your question is the elect.

Jeff Moore

As I understand Calvinism it looks like this:
No man can come to me except the Father which sent me draw him.
So the Calvinist insists that only those the Father draws will come. And the ones who come are the ones the Father draws.
Jesus said, "And I, if I be lifted up will draw all men unto me."
So, at the Great White Throne, Jesus, with tears in His eyes, will have to say to some people, "Depart from me. I wanted to save you. I drew you to me, but my Father wouldn't let me have you."
Is the Trinity divided? Does Jesus draw all men, but the Father only a few? Limited atonement was spawned so close to hell you can smell the sulfur on it. I will side with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost and believe the Bible: the death of Jesus Christ was for all men, and that whosoever WILL may come.

Andrew Barker

Ben Simpson: The reason for my question was not so much to do with the nitty gritty of definite (limited) atonement. I do actually understand basically what the Reformed position is on this!

My reason for raising the question was to try and understand why you and Debbie Kaufman were eulogising so much about this publication and the doctrine. Given that the book has not yet been officially published, unless you have both had privileged access, I can't see how she has managed to recommend it without reading it and well, you just can't wait for your copy! I can only assume that there are going to be no surprises in this book and that it will serve only to reinforce existing beliefs.

Truth is, if somebody like John Piper came out with a different line from the one he has consistently held, well that would be news, but I'm not holding my breath. I've listened to Piper's explanation of limited atonement and have found it extremely unsatisfactory. He dodges the issue as well and his explanation falls just a little short of hyperbole. Superlative was the word if I remember correctly!

I do hope I'm proved wrong and that this proves to be a crystal clear explanation and setting forth of this 'doctrine' because the more clearly it is explained, the more people will see how far short of the truth it falls.

The truth is Ben, that any doctrine which has at its heart that God's salvation extends to an 'elect' few gives me cause for concern. I've heard the argument that instead of God making it possible for all he made it definite for some! I don't buy into that at all. As I read the Bible I find that in heaven they rejoice over every sinner who repents. That's what makes heaven happy. No mention of the elect in any of the verses. The death of a sinner gives God no rejoicing at all. I can't for the life of me think that God has ever described that as 'beautiful'!

dr. james willingham

I wish could afford the work. It will be worth reading, surely. After all, we sing, "Power in the blood, power in the blood. There's power in the blood. would you be free from your sin and pride, There's power in the blood." A definite atonement is what I, as a sinner, need. Not one that only makes my salvation possible, depending on my making the connections. My sinfulness would always keep me from linking up with the power of the blood, but if the blood has the power and is shed on purpose for people and enables and empowers them to believe, then we have a hope, sure and steadfast, one that enters into the veil.

While other sources, i.e., David Clarkson's works and Pink's Sovereignty of God, helped me to see the truths of Sovereign Grace, it was J.I. Packer with his legendary finesse that enabled me to begin to see how these doctrines could empower believers to be balanced, flexible, creative, constant, and magnetic, contrary to most people's expectations and not a few supposed believers of the same.

peter lumpkins

Dr. J.

The price I posted is a little misleading because I posted the retail. Amazon has it at $37.00. Or, if you're a Kindle fan, it's only 19.99. So the $50 is a little misleading. Even at that it still is a little pricey. When I can, I'm certainly going to grab the book, however.

And, while there'll probably be nothing new--so far as any ground-breaking argument for Limited Atonement is concerned--the not-so-usual contributors to the question should certainly offer a fresh way of stating a long accepted argument. There's value in that alone for me. In addition, you can bet you're last cup of Starbucks seminary students *will* be reading it and for that significant reason, I want the book. If we want to engage today's students we need to be abreast of what today's students are being taught...

Andrew Barker

Correction: My memory was inaccurate: The word superlative was not used in Piper's description. However descriptions which apparently do pass muster are as follows: successful atonement, definitive atonement, triumphantly effective atonement.

But these benefits are secured for a particular group of people. They are of course the elect. Call it what you like, the doctrine is definitely limited in nature even if the Reformed lobby would 'love' to drop the limited label.

Listening to the promo video, it does sound very much like a re-branding exercise and that's a definite!

peter lumpkins


Since I've been a part of this discussion beginning in 2006, Calvinists have been scurrying around pitching balls of verbal confusion as they go. On one hand, you have them saying "everybody--both Arminians and Calvinists--limit the atonement in some way" implying, of course, since non-Calvinists "limit" the atonement, they have no real beef with Calvinists over the limitation, the old Tu quoque approach.

On the other hand we have them following Spurgeon suggesting that Calvinists do not limit the atonement at all. Instead it's Arminians. For Arminians, the cross didn't actually save anybody but only made everybody savable. Thus, Arminians "limit" the efficacy of the atonement while Calvinists embrace the full, universal efficacy of the cross--it actually saves all it intended to save.

This is the kind of confusion many Calvinists thrust into the dialog. Yes, they definitively have been actively seeking a rebranding of the Limited Atonement doctrine.

Andrew Barker

Peter, it would also account for Piper's claim that Calvinists believe 'more' about the atonement than 'Arminians'! Arminians are really useful being when it comes to explaining Calvinistic doctrine. I mean if you're not Calvinist you've got to be Arminian haven't you ;-P


NO Jeff,
That's not an accurate way to characterize "Calvinism"


Perhaps it's just me who finds the complaining about a book that has yet to be released to be just a tad premature. Peter, I'm guessing you'd take great issue (as you rightfully should), with someone who was complaining about your book prior to it even being released.

peter lumpkins

Why, of course, Patrick. I see exactly what you mean. I'm sure what you see is what every single reader sees as well. Namely, I write a little piece promoting a new book on Calvinistic doctrine, using the very words from their description of the book in my description; and even stating in the comment thread how I intend to buy the book--even if it is a bit pricey--because of at least two valuable contributions it will undoubtedly make to my own understanding of Calvinistic doctrine and the Christian church. Consequently, such promotion of the book reduces to a negative complaint about the book. Yep. I can see your point, Patrick.


Are you saying that the theologies of Calvinist, whether in reformed Baptist or YRR, leads to a diminished evangelistic thrust?"

Eric, In my opinion which I admit nobody cares about, I believe the YRR Are very zealous evangelists.........for Calvin.... And other assorted dead guys.


Lydia - Thanks for weighing in on Eric's inquiry. I resemble your remark. There is a misplaced passion within New Calvinism approaching idolatry with an evangelistic vigor.


Lydia wrote:

> ...I believe the YRR Are very zealous evangelists.........for
> Calvin.... And other assorted dead guys.

You're absolutely right, Lydia...as they are fond of saying to each other, "what you win people with is what you win people to."

On one hand, fortunately, it generally fails. My previous church, a victim of an SBC-condoned and -funded Calvinist takeover, used to baptize well over a hundred a year; for several years, now, it has struggled to average one a month.

On the other hand, I fear people attempting to be won by and to Calvinism will reject it, falsely believe that's what Biblical Christianity is, and decide that Christianity / a relationship with Christ is something they checked out, were repulsed by, and have no need for / interest in.



You make an excellent point. Why would anyone want to convert to a religion who's God has apparently arbitrarily decided who will go to heaven AND who will burn for eternity in hell. It is an abhorrent, false teaching, preached by men who have been taught that all God's mysteries must conform to human reason and logic.

But so too the idea that the sinner has a free will to choose righteous, to choose God, is unscriptural.

So what should we do with all the passages of Scripture that clearly state that God has elected/appointed/predestined those who will be saved and with all the passages that say the Christ shed his blood for ALL and that God desires ALL men to be saved?

I have a novel idea: Why not believe both?? Why not accept this paradox as true, with the faith of a small child!

Small children believe whatever their father tells them because "Daddy is always right". Reason, logic, and common sense are not factors in a small child's belief system when Daddy has said otherwise.

Orthodox Lutherans believe, as did Martin Luther, that God has predestined the Elect to salvation, but has predestined NO ONE to hell. The sinner sends himself to hell by his unbelief.

The Reformed are wrong; both the Calvinists and the Arminians/Calminians. Both base their position on this doctrine on human reason: "God is not the author of confusion," they will say. No, God is not the author of confusion but neither is everything about God made known to man. Some things about God do NOT make sense.

Christ died for all. All have the opportunity to be saved. But in the end, God has predestined those who will be saved. We orthodox Lutherans would encourage our Reformed brethren to believe this complicated doctrine with child-like faith, and not force it to fit with human logic and reason.

Our job as Christians is to preach the Gospel, baptize, and teach. It is God's job to save. Let's do our job well, and let God do his!

Paul N

Gary, but that would be confusing. Something is not right and does not cease to be confusing because that is what your denomination teaches.

If salvation is based on Gods choice alone then one cannot ever attain saving faith, so the lack of faith of the one not predestined is because God did not choose to give them faith and not because they simply rejected God...they had no choice in the matter. God therefore has predestined the one whom He has not chosen to hell.

I find that the verses about predestination and election are not saying that God is arbitrary in whom He saves. It is possible that the orthodox Lutherans are simply wrong where those verses are concerned.

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