January 28, 2014
For those who are interested in the exciting world of evangelical debates over the atonement — scope, efficacy, and related concerns — then I commend the following:
The book in review is From Heaven He Came and Sought Her (Crossway, 2013), a rather large volume of essays defending the doctrine of limited atonement, the dominant (not unanimous) view of scholastic Calvinism. As for the reviews, Tom McCall from TEDS represents the Arminian side, and Aaron Denlinger from Reformation Bible College represents the Reformed side. In particular, I appreciate Denlinger’s points about hypothetical universalism, which is effectively “de-Reformed” in the book, contrary to the tradition. Denlinger is a good guy, who I enjoyed meeting a few times while at Aberdeen. He knows this stuff backwards and forwards. David Gibson, one of the volume’s editors, is also a sharp guy. He was finishing his doctorate at Aberdeen, while co-pastoring a Church of Scotland parish (which has since departed the C of S) that I attended when the university chapel was not in session.
While I’m recommending reviews, I see that Thomas Schreiner from Southern Seminary has posted a lengthy review of N. T. Wright’s Paul and the Faithfulness of God (Fortress, 2013). His review is in the latest issue of Credo Magazine, which is free online. The review is pp. 26-56. I just started reading it, so I cannot opine yet. While Southern Seminary is, needless to say, not my style of Calvinism, I have always appreciated Schreiner’s integrity and fairness. His latest book, The King in His Beauty, is a joy to read.
I realize that I have never discussed Wright or the New Perspective on this blog. I actually did my undergraduate dissertation on Paul (and Christian mysticism), for which I read Sanders for the first time. This was in the mid-00’s. Since then, I have tried to keep abreast with the debates in Pauline scholarship, including the newer variant offered by Douglas Campbell at Duke. Yet, it is hard for me to get really excited about these debates. The good things in Wright (and the NPP more generally) I have since imbibed from Barth, such as the “faithfulness of Christ” emphasis. Appropriately, Barth manages to maintain this emphasis while sufficiently attending to the substitutionary depths of δίκαιος, which Wright reduces (in my opinion) to a historical construction that is remarkably limited and shallow. I do not have the time or energy to defend this, but I know that my impressions are widely shared among theologians of a more systematic orientation.