From Heaven He Came and Sought Her: Definite Atonement in Historical, Biblical, Theological, and Pastoral Perspective



About From Heaven He Came and Sought Her

There is a palpable sense of confusion—and sometimes even embarrassment—with regard to so-called limited atonement today, pointing to the need for thoughtful engagement with this controversial doctrine. Incorporating contributions from a host of respected theologians, From Heaven He Came and Sought Her stands as the first comprehensive resource on definite atonement as it examines the issue from historical, biblical, theological, and pastoral perspectives.

Offering scholarly insights for those seeking a thorough and well-researched discussion, this book will encourage charitable conversations as it winsomely defends this foundational tenet of Reformed theology.


David Gibson (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is minister of Trinity Church in Aberdeen, Scotland. Previously he served as a staff worker for the Religious and Theological Studies Fellowship (part of UCCF) and as an assistant minister at High Church, Hilton, Aberdeen. Gibson is also a widely published author of articles and books such as Rich: The Reality of Encountering Jesus and Reading the Decree: Exegesis, Election and Christology in Calvin and Barth.

Jonathan Gibson (PhD, Cambridge University) is associate minister at Cambridge Presbyterian Church and assistant professor of Old Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary. He is the author of historical and biblical articles in Themelios and Journal of Biblical Literature and regularly speaks at conferences in Australia and South Africa. Jonathan and his wife, Jackie, have two children.


“A massive product of exact and well-informed scholarship . . . with landmark significance. . . . I give this book top marks for its range of solid scholarship, cogency of argument, warmth of style, and zeal for the true glory of God. I recommend it most highly.”
J. I. Packer, Board of Governors' Professor of Theology, Regent College

“I cannot imagine that this book could have been published twenty-five years ago: there were not at that time enough well-informed theologians working in the Reformed heritage to produce a volume of such clarity and competence. Whatever side you hold in this debate, henceforth you dare not venture into the discussion without thoughtfully reading this book, which, mercifully, makes argument by stereotype and reductionism a great deal more difficult. Above all, this book will elicit adoration as its readers ponder afresh what Jesus achieved on the cross.”
D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School; Cofounder, The Gospel Coalition

“The topic is worthy enough. Yet the lineup of contributors to this volume makes this, in my view, the most impressive defense of definite atonement in over a century. Beyond rehearsing traditional arguments, first-rate historical, biblical, and systematic theologians bring fresh angles and exegesis to bear. From Heaven He Came and Sought Her is a gift that will no doubt keep on giving for generations to come.”
Michael Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California; author, Core Christianity: Finding Yourself in God's Story

“This is the definitive study. It is careful, comprehensive, deep, pastoral, and thoroughly persuasive.”
David F. Wells, Distinguished Senior Research Professor, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

“There is a conventional wisdom that seems to believe definite atonement is the weakest of the five heads of doctrine confessed at the Synod of Dort. But you may come away from this book believing it is the strongest, in its historical attestation, biblical basis, and spiritual blessing. Written by first-rate exegetes and theologians, this book covers all the difficult issues and emerges with a highly persuasive and attractive case. Highly recommended!”
John M. Frame, J. D. Trimble Chair of Systematic Theology and Philosophy, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando

“For whom did Christ die? This volume makes a fresh and impressively comprehensive case for definite atonement as the answer true to Scripture. It shows convincingly, through multi-authored contributions, (1) that the issues of the extent of the atonement and its nature cannot be separated—penal substitution, at the heart of why Christ had to die, stands or falls with definite atonement; and (2) how definite atonement alone provides for a gospel offer of salvation from sin that is genuinely free. In engaging various opposing views on this much-disputed topic, the editors seek to do so in a constructive and irenic spirit, an effort in which they and the other authors have succeeded admirably.”
Richard B. Gaffin Jr., Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology, Emeritus, Westminster Theological Seminary

“This book is formidable and persuasive. Those familiar with the terrain will recognize that the editors know exactly the key issues and figures in this debate. And none of the authors who follow disappoint. The tone is calm and courteous, the scholarship rigorous and relentless, the argument clear and compelling. This penetrating discussion takes into account the major modern academic criticisms of definite atonement (Barth, the Torrances, Armstrong, Kendall, and others) as well as more popular critiques (Clifford, Driscoll and Breshears). An impressive team of scholars adorns this subject and aims to help Christians toward a deeper gratitude to God for his grace, a greater assurance of salvation, a sweeter fellowship with Christ, stronger affections in their worship of him, more love for people and superior courage and sacrifice in witness and service, and indeed to propel us into the global work of missions with compassion and confidence.”
J. Ligon Duncan III, Chancellor and CEO, Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi

“Whether you are sympathetic to or suspicious of definite atonement, this book will surprise you. Here are historical details, exegetical links, theological observations, and pastoral perspectives that are fresh and fascinating, even though there is also plenty that will prove controversial. From Heaven He Came and Sought Her offers the fullest and most nuanced treatment on definite atonement I know, and will richly add to the substance and quality of future conversations about the intent of the atonement. Whether you think that you agree or disagree with the authors, wrestling with these essays is well worth your time.”
Kelly M. Kapic, Professor of Theological Studies, Covenant College

Table of Contents

1. Sacred Theology and the Reading of the Divine Word: Mapping the Doctrine of Definite Atonement (David Gibson and Jonathan Gibson)

I. Definite Atonement in Church HistoryӬ

2. “We Trust in the Saving Blood”: Definite Atonement in the Ancient Church (Michael A. G. Haykin)”¨

3. “Sufficient for All, Efficient for Some”: Definite Atonement in the Medieval Church (David S. Hogg)”¨

4. Calvin, Indefinite Language, and Definite Atonement (Paul Helm)Ӭ

5. Blaming Beza: The Development of Definite Atonement in the Reformed Tradition (Raymond A. Blacketer)Ӭ

6. The Synod of Dort and Definite Atonement (Lee Gatiss)Ӭ

7. “Controversy on Universal Grace”: An Historical Survey of Moïse Amyraut’s Brief Traitté de la Predestination (Amar Djaballah)”¨

8. Atonement and the Covenant of Redemption: John Owen on the Nature of Christ’s Satisfaction (Carl R. Trueman)”¨

II. Definite Atonement in the BibleӬ

9. “Because He Loved Your Forefathers”: Election, Atonement, and Intercession in the Pentateuch (Paul R. Williamson)”¨

10. “Stricken for the Transgression of My People”: The Atoning Work of Isaiah’s Suffering Servant (J. Alec Motyer)”¨

11. For the Glory of the Father and the Salvation of His People: Definite Atonement in the Synoptics and Johannine Literature (Matthew S. Harmon)Ӭ

12. For Whom Did Christ Die? Particularism and Universalism in the Pauline Epistles (Jonathan Gibson)Ӭ

13. The Glorious, Indivisible, Trinitarian Work of God in Christ: Definite Atonement in Paul's Theology of Salvation (Jonathan Gibson)Ӭ

14. “Problematic Texts” for Definite Atonement in the Pastoral and General Epistles (Thomas R. Schreiner)

III. Definite Atonement in Theological PerspectiveӬ

15. Definite Atonement and the Divine Decree (Donald Macleod)Ӭ

16. The Triune God, Incarnation, and Definite Atonement (Robert Letham)Ӭ

17. The Definite Intent of Penal Substitutionary Atonement (Garry J. Williams)Ӭ

18. Punishment God Cannot Twice Inflict: The Double Payment Argument Redivivus (Garry J. Williams)Ӭ

19. The New Covenant Work of Christ: Priesthood, Atonement, and Intercession (Stephen J. Wellum)Ӭ

20. Jesus Christ the Man: Toward a Theology of Definite Atonement (Henri A. G. Blocher)Ӭ

IV. Definite Atonement in Pastoral PracticeӬ

21. Slain for the World? The “Uncomfortability” of the “Unevangelized” for a Universal Atonement (Daniel Strange)

22. “Blessèd Assurance, Jesus is Mine”? Definite Atonement and the Cure of Souls (Sinclair B. Ferguson)”¨

23. “My Glory I Will Not Give to Another”: Preaching the Fullness of Definite Atonement to the Glory of God (John Piper)


Category: Theology
Format: Printed Caseside
Page Count: 704
ISBN-10: 1-4335-1276-9
ISBN-13: 978-1-4335-1276-6
Size: 6.0 in x 9.0 in
Weight: 37.9 ounces
Published: November 30, 2013

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