Friday, August 11, 2017

Review of David Allen's The Extent of the Atonement

Recently Jeff Johnson posted a review of The Extent of the Atonement: A Historical and Critical Review by David Allen at the Founders Ministries blog. Jeff offers a succinct description of the book, as well of the strengths and weaknesses he has identified in it. For example, when discussing the strengths of the book Jeff asserts that:
Though this is not the only historical survey of the doctrine of the extent of the atonement, it is the only comprehensive survey of the topic. From Irenaeus (AD 130-202) to David Schrock (b. AD 1980), and with almost every notable theologian in between, Allen has provided us with a valuable catalog of the history of the extent of the atonement. Therefore, I am thankful, first of all, for now having such a resource available for my own study on the subject.
However, when discussing the weaknesses of the book, Jeff asserts that:
Allen is mistaken when he limits the extent to sufficiency alone. He is wrong when he says: “For all who affirm limited atonement, the atonement can only be sufficient for those for whom it is efficient.” This is not true for the majority of 5-point Calvinists who have affirmed that actual (extrinsic) sufficiency extends to all universally.Consequently, the extent of the atonement includes more than just its sufficiency. For 5-point Calvinists, limited atonement means limited efficacy. Thus, to disprove limited atonement, as it is presented in the Canons of Dort, Allen has to do more than disprove the limited extent of its actual sufficiency. Allen has to do something more difficult, he has to disprove the limited extent of its inherent efficacy. Without making the distinction between the two sides of the extent of the atonement, Allen muddies the waters a bit. And this, I think, is a real weakness in the book.
I hope these two excerpts will inspire our readers to check out the entire review as well as Jeff's own excellent book He Died for Me.

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