The Atonement

“But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God”

Heb. 10:12

“…and I lay down my life for the sheep.”

Jn. 10:15

“Ay, ay, d’ye know what it was – dying on the cross, forsaken by the Father?  D’ye know what it was?  What?  What?  It was damnation, and damnation taken lovingly…  It was damnation, and He took it lovingly.”

John ‘Rabbi’ Duncan

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Subsections

Limited Atonement

The Atonement Provides Common Grace Benefits for the Reprobate

The Active Obedience of Christ

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Order of Contents

Articles
Books
Quotes
The Necessity of the Atonement
The Sufficiency of the Atonement

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Articles 

1800’s

Cunningham, William – The Doctrine of the Atonement, p. 237 ff,  133 pages, from his Historical Theology, vol. 2

Cunningham was of the Free Church of Scotland.

Dabney, Robert – Christ our Substitute  no date, 4 pp.  published by the Presbyterian Committee of Publication, Richmond, VA. 

Hodge, Charles 

Beman on the Atonement  being chapter four from his Essays and Reviews, p. 129, 1857, 55 pages

On the Nature of the Atonement  1832, 169 pp.

Walker, James – The Atonement  starting on p. 67, 27 pp.  being chapter three from his The Theology and Theologians of Scotland: chiefly of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries

A survey of the doctrine of the Atonement from the perspective of 1600’s Scotland, from a minister in the Free Church of Scotland.

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1900’s

Murray, John

‘The Atonement’  1976  43 paragraphs

‘The Nature of the Atonement’  from Redemption Accomplished and Applied, pp. 19-50

Berkhof, Louis

The Nature of the Atonement  1950  25 paragraphs, from his Systematic Theology

Divergent Theories of the Atonement  1950, 23 paragraphs, from his Systematic Theology

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Books

Middle Ages

Anselm – Why God Became Man, or Cur Deo Homo  110 pp.

George Smeaton says that the title “must be translated, ‘Why a God-man?'” and gives a survey of the work in pp. 510-520 of his historical appendix to the Apostles Doctrine of the Atonement.

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1600’s

Outram, William – Two Dissertations on Sacrifices: the First on the Sacrifices of the Jews, the Second on the Sacrifice of Christ  1679  420 pp.

Outram (1625-1679) was a latitudinarian Anglican, who here argues the orthodox nature of sacrifice against Socinianism.

Turretin, Francis – On the Atonement  220 pp.

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1800’s

Crawford, Thomas – The Doctrine of Holy Scripture Respecting the Atonement  1871  520 pp.

Crawford was a conservative Church of Scotland minister.

Candlish, Robert – An Inquiry into the Completeness and Extent of the Atonement, with Special Reference to the Universal Offer of the Gospel and the Universal Obligation to Believe  1845  225 pp.

Candlish was a leader in the Free Church of Scotland.

Martin, Hugh – The Atonement in its Relations to the Covenant, the Priesthood, the Intercession of our Lord  1877  315 pp.

Martin was a minister of the Free Church of Scotland.

Smeaton, George

The Doctrine of the Atonement as Taught by Christ Himself  1871  536 pp.

Smeaton was a minister of the Free Church of Scotland.

The significance of this volume, along with other reasons, is that persons often claim that the atonement was a theological explanation and doctrine made up by the apostle Paul, whereas Jesus’ simple teachings were absent of it.  Smeaton shows that all of the foundational facets of the teaching of the atonement were taught by Jesus, and authorized by Him.

The Doctrine of the Atonement as Taught by the Apostles  1870  560 pp.

The significance of this volume, amongst other things, is its showing that the apostles’ teaching on the atonement was founded on, and simply a further development in greater fullness of what Christ taught.  It also surveys the doctrine in each of the N.T. epistles.

It also includes an appendix on a ‘Historical Sketch of the Doctrine of the Atonement’ (65 pp.).

Magee, William – Discourses and Dissertations on the Scriptural Doctrines of Atonement and Sacrifice, vol. 1, 2, 3  Here is the table of contents to all 3 vols.

“On the subject of the Atonement, writer of the greatest eminence have, in every age, exerted their talents.  The labors of Archbishop Magee, and of Dr. J. Pye Smith, stand pre-eminent in modern times.

The former writer has accumulated a body of proof for the reality of the Atonement, which will serve to transmit to posterity his fame for Biblical knowledge, acute thinking, and learned research.  But besides regretting that his varied materials had not been arranged in a more orderly and useful form, the friends of true religion have to lament that the opinions of this distinguished author, on some vital points, should have been not only defective but erroneous.

These defects of the Archbishop have been supplied by the labors of Dr. Smith, who, in his Four Discourses, has given a masterly view of what may be called the philosophy of the Atonement.” – William Symington

Symington, Andrew – On the Atonement and Intercession of Jesus Christ  1847  305 pp.

Symington was a Scottish, Reformed Presbyterian.

“There are other writers who treat, some of the necessity, and others of the extent of the Atonement.  But it appeared desirable that there should exist a work embracing a view of the whole subject; so comprehensive as not to fatigue the mind on any one topic, and yet so copious as not altogether to disappoint the serious and anxious inquirer…  To furnish such a work has been the aim of the present writer.  He is not aware of the existence of any treatise on precisely the same plan.” – Preface

Smith, John Pye – Four Discourses on the Sacrifice and Priesthood of Jesus Christ and the Atonement and Redemption  1847  403 pp.

Pye was an English, dissenting minister.

“On the subject of the Atonement, writer of the greatest eminence have, in every age, exerted their talents.  The labors of Archbishop Magee, and of Dr. J. Pye Smith, stand pre-eminent in modern times.

The former writer has accumulated a body of proof for the reality of the Atonement…  But besides regretting that his varied materials had not been arranged in a more orderly and useful form, the friends of true religion have to lament that the opinions of this distinguished author, on some vital points, should have been not only defective but erroneous.

These defects of the Archbishop have been supplied by the labors of Dr. Smith, who, in his Four Discourses, has given a masterly view of what may be called the philosophy of the Atonement.” – William Symington

MacDonnell, John – The Doctrine of the Atonement Deduced from Scripture and Vindicated from Misapprehensions and Objections.  Six Discourses  1858  275 pp.

MacDonnell was an Anglican.  The work is dedicated to William Magee.

Dabney, Robert – Christ Our Penal Substitute  Buy  115 pp.

A defense of the legal nature of the atonement based in justice for punishing sins, and Christ being a substitute for his people.

Hodge, A.A. – The Atonement  1867  440 pp.

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1900’s

Boettner, Loraine – The Atonement

Crawford, Brandon – Jonathan Edwards on the Atonement  Buy  147 pp.

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Quotes

John ‘Rabbi’ Duncan

‘Just a Talker’, pp. 8,26-28

“Ah, dear gentlemen, there is something tremendous in the atonement.”

“The whole question of the atonement… must… be base on the two propositions, moral and legal: (i) that sin deserves punishment; and (ii) that vindictive justice belongs to God.”

“We are asked [by liberals] to throw aside every theory of the atonement and repose in the fact.  But I cannot receive the atonement as a blank mystery… the fact of an atonement would not be clear to me apart from its reasons and relations.”

“The atonement did not make God propitious, merciful, longsuffering [notice the order in Jn. 3:16]; but God’s great love said, ‘I am ready to forgive, if I can do it justly’, and, his infinite wisdom finding that He could do it justly in this way, He resolved on the sacrifice.”

“Divine vengeance found sin in us, but Christ was made sin for us.”

“Justice required satisfaction, but love gave vicarious satisfaction.”

“Take away the substitution, and all that remains for me is this:  ‘Jesus tried to make us good; but, good man, he failed.”

“You remember one of my favourite tracts, ‘The Poor Negress’.  The broken English leaves out the connections, and brings in the big facts.  ‘He die, or we die: He die, we no die.'”

“The blood of Jesus is surely a ransom for ten thousand pits!”

“The expulsion form Eden was an awful thing; the deluge was an awful thing; the destruction of Sodom was an awful thing; the events of the last day will be awful; hell is very awful.  There is something more awful still – it is the cross of the Lord Jesus.”

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The Necessity of the Atonement

“It seems to me a terrible thing to say that there was no intrinsic necessity for Christ’s death, for then we virtually say that He died for sin that He need not have died for.”

John ‘Rabbi’ Duncan

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Turretin, Francis –   ‘Chapter 1 – The Necessity of the Atonement’  †1687  16 pp.  in On the Atonement, pp. 14-30

Walker, James – ‘The Necessity of the Atonement’  1888  8 pp.  being section 1 of ch. 3, ‘The Atonement’ in The Theology and Theologians of Scotland: chiefly of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, pp. 67-75

A survey of the 1600’s Scottish covenanters on the necessity of the atonement, from a minister in the Free Church of Scotland.

Smeaton, George – p. 530 of ‘Historical of Doctrine of Atonement’  an appendix to The Apostles’ Doctrine of the Atonement

Murray, John

Ch. 1, ‘The Necessity of the Atonement’  in Redemption Accomplished and Applied

Redemption Accomplished and Applied

Articles

Berkhof, Louis – The Cause and Necessity of the Atonement  1950, 14 paragraphs, from his Systematic Theology

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The Sufficiency of the Atonement

1500’s

On Calvin

J.V. Fesko, ‘Socinus & the Racovian Catechism on Justification’  being ch. 13 in Michael Parsons, Aspects of Reforming: Theology & Practice in Sixteenth Century Europe  (Paternoster, 2013)  See also Richard Muller, Dictionary of Latin & Greek Theological Terms  under Meritum Christi.

“Scholars have previously noted that Calvin’s doctrine of Christ’s merit and satisfaction bears the imprint of the nominalism of John Duns Scotus (ca. 1265-1308).  Both Calvin and Scotus affirm the idea that the worthiness of Christ’s merit lies in the value assigned to it by God’s decree–it has no intrinsic worth or value.  God could have ordained things in such a manner as to have an angel make satisfaction and earn a sufficient amount of merit to redeem sinners…

Based upon Calvin’s idea that Christ could not merit anything apart from God’s good pleasure, or his acceptatio…  it should be noted that Calvin was not unique but merely affirmed a mainstream opinion on the matter.”

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John Calvin – Institutes, Book 2, ch. 17, section 1 ff.

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1600’s

Quote

Nicholas Byfield

An Exposition Upon the Epistle to the Colossians (1617), p. 99

“‘Who has made us fit’.  Doctrine:  We are neither naturally happy, nor universally so; not naturally, for we are made fit; not born so, not universally; for He has made [us] fit, not all men.  Christ died for his sheep only (John 10), for his Church only (Eph. 1), not for the world (John 17).  And therefore when the Scripture says, Christ died for all men, we must understand it:

First, in respect of the sufficiency of his death, not in respect of the efficiency of it.

Secondly, in respect of the common oblation of the benefits of his death externally in the Gospel unto all.

Thirdly, as his death extends to all the Elect: for all, that is, for the Elect.

Fourthly, for all, that is, for all that are saved, so that none that are justified and saved, are so, but by the virtue of his death.

Fifthly, for all, that is for all indefinitely, for all sorts of men, not for every man of every sort.

Lastly, He died for all, that is not for the Jews only, but for the Gentiles also.”

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Article

Du Moulin, Peter – Ch. 27, ‘How Far, and in What Sense Christ Died for All?  The Opinions of the Parties’  in The Anatomy of Arminianism…  (1619; London, 1635), p. 196 ff.

Moulin first surveys the opinions and statements of the Arminians and then concludes the chapter with a positive statement of his (and others’) position: 

“VIII.  …We acknowledge that Christ died for all; but we deny that by his death salvation and forgiveness of sin is obtained for all men: or that reconciliation is made for Cain, Pharaoh, Saul, Judas, etc.  Neither do we think that remission of sins is obtained for anyone whose sins are not remitted; or that salvation was purchased for him, whom God from eternity hath decreed to condemn: for this were a vain purchase…

IX.  And when we say that Christ died for all, we take it thus, to wit, that the death of Christ is sufficient to save whosoever do believe, yea, and that it is sufficient to save all men, if all men in the whole world did believe in Him: and that the cause why all men are not saved, is not in the insufficiency of the death of Christ, but in the wickedness and incredulity of man.

Finally, Christ may be said to reconcile all men to God by his death, after the same manner, that we say that the sun doth enlighten the eyes of all men, although many are blind, many sleep, and many are hid in darkness:  Because if all and several men had their eyes, and were awake, and were in the midst of the light, the light of the sun were sufficient to enlighten them.  Neither is it any doubt but that it may be said, not only that Christ died for all men, but also that all men are saved by Christ, because among men, there is none saved but by Christ: after the same manner that the apostle saith, 1 Cor. 15:20, that ‘all men are made alive by Christ’, because no man is made alive but by Him.” – pp. 198-199

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“In giving Christ to die for poor sinners, God gave the richest jewel in His cabinet; a mercy of the greatest worth, and most inestimable value.  Heaven itself is not so valuable and precious as Christ is!”

John Flavel

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Related Pages

The Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel