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The Atonement Debate: Papers from the London Symposium on the Theology of Atonement Paperback – March 30, 2008


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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Derek Tidball (PhD, Keele University) has been principal of the London School of Theology since 1995. Previously Derek served as pastor of two Baptist Churches, as a tutor at LST, and as head of the mission department of the Baptist Union. He is currently chair of the UK Evangelical Alliance Council. He has authored numerous books including Skilful Shepherds: An Introduction to Pastoral Theology, previously published by Zondervan. He edits The Bible Speaks Today: Bible Themes series for IVP and has contributed the volumes on The Message of Leviticus and The Message of the Cross himself. He is married to Dianne, a Baptist pastor. They have one son.

David Hilborn (PhD, Nottingham University) is director of studies of the North Thames Ministerial Course, having served as head of theology for the UK Evangelical Alliance since 1997. In that role he was responsible for the publication of a number of significant books and reports on topics where evangelicals differ from each other, including reports on hell, the Toronto Blessing and homosexuality. Formerly a United Reformed Minister, David is now an ordained clergyman of the Church of England. He is married to Mia, a hospital chaplain. They have two children.

Justin Thacker (PhD, King’s College London) is the head of theology at the Evangelical Alliance in the UK. His first book, Postmodernism and the Ethics of Theological Knowledge will be published by Ashgate in October 2007. He lives in the UK.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan (March 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310273390
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310273394
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,107,745 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Helen Hancox on August 1, 2008
Format: Paperback
Steve Chalke opened a can of worms with his book 'The Lost Message of Jesus' in 2003 when he cast doubt on the penal substitution theory of atonement and in July 2005 a symposium was held to discuss the issues. Various papers were given at the symposium and several of these are gathered together in this volume, some having been reworked. It's a collection of very different essays, some focusing strongly on exegesis of particular texts, others giving an overall view of the issues, several peppered with Greek and Hebrew text (which might cause problems for readers) and most assuming a fair knowledge of the overall theology of the atonement. Generally the papers are all erudite and well written with the obvious disadvantage of a fairly short space in which to discuss important issues.

Chapter 12 contained what I found the most helpful summary of the penal substitution theory along with its problems (although the writer, Oliver D Crisp, did not find these insurmountable). However the arrangement of the book felt so piecemeal that it was difficult to find much overall coherence. This book would serve better as something to dip into rather than read through (as suggested in the introduction).

Joel B Green pleads in his paper "...that we remind ourselves, often, that debates regarding the appropriateness of penal substitutionary atonement as an exposition of the saving message of the cross of Christ comprise an intramural conversation and not one that can serve to distinguish Christian believer from non-believer or even evangelical from non-evangelical." The very next essay by Garry Williams comments "I cannot see how those who disagree [with the penal subsitutionary view] can remain allied without placing unity above truths which are undeniably central to the Christian faith.
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The other reviewers have accurately summarised the content of this symposium. For me it was helpful in coming to a deeper understanding of Evangelicalism as a whole. It helped me see that Evangelicalism has never been a clearly defined organisation, with doctrinal boundaries to mark who is 'in' and who is 'out'. It is probably safe to say that a majority of Evangelicals are shocked by words like those of Chalke. Many have called for him to be expelled from the EA. But that has revealed the critical question: Who decides who is Evangelical and who is not? Who has the authority to accept or reject others as Evangelical? This book highlights the problem, but also highlights the fact that Evangelicalism is to ethereal a thing to doing anything potent about internal disagreement.
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18 of 30 people found the following review helpful By wisdomofthepages.com on April 25, 2008
Format: Paperback
On the cross of Calvary, God poured out his wrath on Christ, in the place of sinners.

Do you think that such a notion is a "twisted version of events," or "morally dubious," or a "huge barrier to faith"?

Do you think that the doctrine of penal substitution, God punishing Christ in our place, is a form of "cosmic child abuse"?

Did you know that there is an ongoing debate among some in the evangelical camp who are embarrassed and even hate the truth claim that Jesus' death was a divine wrath-bearing event?

A brand new book by Zondervan brings forth part of this discussion, focusing on the controversy as it appeared in the UK in the Evangelical Alliance. The Atonement Debate: Papers from the London Symposium on the Theology of Atonement is a collection of papers from a symposium held by the Evangelical Alliance and the London School of Theology.

The undermining of penal substitution is not new. Attacks and redefinitions of this core doctrine have been around for ages. However, in recent times, it was the book The Lost Message of Jesus by Steve Chalk that sought to take away the doctrine of propitiation while at the same time claiming a place at the evangelical table.

The Atonement Debate is a response to Chalke and others within the EA. It is long (360 pages), substantial, and contains chapters by numerous authors, including Chalke himself. Sections include "Biblical Foundations," "Theological Contributions," "Historical Perspectives," and "Contemporary Perspectives." In other words, biblical, systematic, historical, and contemporary apologetic angles are all addressed in this book.

Make no mistake, mixing up and altering the doctrine of the atonement is an offense against the gospel itself.
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