- File Size: 1341 KB
- Print Length: 177 pages
- Publisher: Free Grace Press (May 7, 2017)
- Publication Date: May 7, 2017
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B071VJTSH3
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
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He Died for Me: Limited Atonement & the Universal Gospel Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
He covers the different views by interacting with major theologians throughout the history of the church. Although a fairly short book, Pastor Johnson does a great job covering all the different perspectives on this topic.He does not shy away from addressing the difficult questions that many would just avoid. The bibliography is great too.I found it to be extremely helpful.
The formula originally meant, and was always taken to mean that Christ paid the price for the sins of the world, but that the saving benefits of the atonement were only applied to the elect. John Calvin and the first generation Reformers all embraced that "the death of Christ not only efficaciously secured the application of redemption for God's elect people, [but] it also brought a sufficient provision for the salvation of the non-elect" (pg. 57). But the Lombard formula "was modified by Calvin's successor, Theodore Beza" (pg. 57). Beza, John Owen, Frances Turretin and all in the stream of High Calvinism through A.W. Pink and Carl Trueman in our day, revised the formula and advocated a merely, hypothetical sufficiency: Christ's death would have been sufficient for all men IF God had so planned or ordained it to be so. When High Calvinists speak of Christ's death being sufficient for all, they mean that His death has infinite value, and that it could've saved zillions of worlds of sinners if God had so intended, but in their commitment to strict particularism they reject that Christ was actually a ransom for all, a satisfaction for the sins of the world.
Jeffrey Johnson's burden is to stipulate the implications of taking the formula the historic way or the revised way. Particularly, How does one's doctrine of the atonement influence one's evangelism? Chapters 5, 6, and 7 cover, the "Restricted Offer," "No Offer," and the "Free Offer" as the consequential results of the High Calvinist position (strict particularism), the Hyper-Calvinist position and the Moderate Calvinist position, respectively. "It is wrong, High Calvinists would argue, for evangelists to say, 'Christ died for you'...it would be asking reprobates to place their faith in something that was not true" (pg. 68). Moderate Calvinists, while holding to a limited efficacy, maintain a real and actual sufficiency, and on this basis preach openly the love of God for all sinners and the death of Christ as a real provision for them, if they will but believe. Thankfully many High Calvinists openly preach the Gospel, and the Cross as "the pulpit of God's love" to all sinners, but Johnson rightly challenges the warrant for such a free offer if Christ has not, indeed made satisfaction for all. As John Davenant rightly asserted, "A real call to believe presupposes an object prepared in which to believe" (pg. 143).
Chapter 10 is a helpful critique, with the aid of many Reformed theologians of John Owen's quantitative view of the atonement and his famous "trilemma." Owen's position proves too much. The death of Christ does not immediately save anyone. Redemption, though accomplished on the cross, must be applied through faith. Even the elect, prior to their conversion are under the wrath of God (John 3:36; Eph. 2:3), they are not united to Christ personally, until they are justified through faith. "It is possible for Christ to be be a sufficient sacrifice for unbelievers without the sacrifice being automatically applied to them" (pg. 126).
The "Case for Universal Sufficiency," chapter 11, is especially powerful. In preaching the Gospel, we are preaching the cross. We can't disjoin the death of Christ from the good news we are preaching to them. More than that, God is making His "appeal through us" (2 Cor. 5:20). On what basis is God promising eternal life and salvation to all people, if Christ has not in any sense died for them? "For this reason, John Bunyan was right when he said, 'For the the offer of the gospel cannot, with God's allowance, be offered any further than the death of Jesus Christ doth go; because if that be taken away, there is indeed no gospel.'" (pg. 142)
In an Appendix, Jeffrey Johnson lists some representative Hypers, Highs, Moderates and a fourth category of what he describes as "Low Calvinists." He seems to be in error in listing Amyraut, John Preston and James Ussher as "Low Calvinists." His list of Moderates is also a bit misleading - guys like Candlish and Berkhof still held to an exclusively limited atonement.
His final chapter, bringing it all together on "The Lombardian Formula" I found to be compelling. Some helpful quotes reinforce his case.
This is a good book, I'm glad to see it, but I don't think it is as helpful as it could have been. Lots of quotes, lots of data, but not as carefully explained at points as it should have been. I found myself wondering if all the history and representations were always accurate - especially after looking at the Appendix. There were places where I felt that High Calvinists will legitimately take issue with his representations of them, but those occasions were few. Kudos to the attempt and accomplishment brother.
For anyone seeking to examine the case for Moderate Calvinism, I would also heartily recommend that you pick up David Allen's, "The Extent of the Atonement: A Historical and Critical Review." Johnson refers to it - it is 800 pages of very helpful material. I hope that his book encourages many to examine other important texts like John Davenant's, "Dissertation on the Death of Christ," or G. Michael Thomas', "The Extent of the Atonement: A Dilemma for Reformed Theology from Calvin to the Consensus," and "The Atonement Controversy" by Owen Thomas.
I join Curt Daniel, Bob Gonzales and Keith Throop in recommending this small title by Jeffrey Johnson - may his tribe increase.
In a highly readable, thorough, and yet surprisingly concise book, Johnson makes the case for an atonement that is universal in its sufficiency but limited in its efficacy. The reader will find well documented historical positions from those who agree and disagree with Johnson's assessment. This is an excellent work for anyone who is either unconvinced on this subject or would like to better understand the biblical, theological, and historical case for limited atonement from someone who is not a Hyper or High Calvinist. Furthermore, the work is important as it shows the practical implications for holding to a Moderate Calvinist position, namely truly offering the gospel freely and genuinely to all persons without exception.
Finally, the book reads not as a dry dissertation that should be tucked away in the archives of some library but rather a rich and lively engagement whereby the reader walks away with a full heart glorying in the work of Christ on his or her behalf.
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