Pushing the atonement to the limit?

(What follows is a summary of a paper I’ve been meaning to write for several years now, but never got around to. If anybody is interested enough to comment, I’d be happy to know if it would be worth actually doing…) The doctrine of limited atonement seems largely forgotten by mainstream academic theology today. Actually, that is wrong – it is not forgotten, it is remembered with shame, derision, and sometimes amusement. Yet once this doctrine was seriously held by the majority of Reformed theologians. Why? They saw a theological advantage: they understood their claim about the atonement to be that it was definite, rather than limited. That is, on their scheme, Christ died to accomplish a certain fixed end, and that end is infallibly...

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A cold and broken hallelujah?

I was down at Evangelical Alliance Council last week, and added several other meetings in London with it. I had a conversation over a glass of wine with someone who I like, and indeed respect greatly, which, at one point, was depressingly familiar. My friend had been at a big Christian gathering; some recently-written choruses had been sung; the theological content (or lack thereof) of the choruses was deplored and/or ridiculed. I hear so much criticism like this that sometimes I feel that I ought to join a 12-step programme – ‘My name is Steve, and I am a charismatic…’ The fact remains, I enjoy, appreciate, benefit from, this style of worship. Several times a year, I find myself in ‘big tent’ worship gatherings, and for me...

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Trying to understand Mark Driscoll

(Yeah, I know, being somewhat nice about John Piper is one thing, but…) The thing is, I think several of Driscoll’s sillier comments (and surely the most partisan supporter will own that he has said some rather odd things over the years?) are manifestations of the same two basic positions, and I find that an interesting reflection. Driscoll’s public comments (by which I mean those that have attracted notice) have largely been to do with issues in ethics. He is famous for discussing what Christian people should and should not do, in detailed and often rather graphic terms. Of course, he lives and pastors in a nation where (to borrow Samuel Butler’s magnificent line) many people are ‘equally horrified at hearing the Christian religion...

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