The Extent of the Atonement by David Allen


Here is an encyclopedic treatment of the oft debated topic of the extent of the atonement. In particular, it’s a refutation of the limited atonement. To be sure, it’s focus is the atonement and not the totality of the Calvinistic system. This book really serves two distinct purposes. On the one hand, it makes a case for a universal atonement, while on the other hand, it presents an exhaustive history of what has been believed on the subject in the past.

The historical research done is mind blowing. I can hardly believe the volume of pages of reading that would’ve had to have been done to pull it off. No matter which side of the issue you are on, you must appreciate all the historical research that has been marshaled into one place for us.

Though I agree with the author in holding a universal atonement position, many things I learned here were a surprise to me. I already knew that there was no known precedent for the limited atonement in the church fathers, so my surprise came in the Reformation era. The biggest shock was that John Calvin himself did not hold to a limited atonement. In fact, we can find no historical proof of it before Beza. I was further shocked through the next several chapters to find several Calvinistic theologians that I knew did not hold to a limited atonement even if they did the other elements of Calvinistic theology.

Mr. Allen, in my view, presented some compelling exegesis and logical argumentation throughout the book. I felt he was honest with what his research uncovered. If the theologian he studied made any statements positive toward a limited atonement, he readily admitted it. After reading this book, it will now be an encyclopedic resource for me when I want to look up a theologian to remember his position on the limited atonement.

After he completed his historical review, he reviewed in-depth the most popular, common, new title presenting the limited atonement, “From Heaven He Came and Sought Her.” I felt he answered it beautifully, without superficiality or generality, and was quite successful. His closing chapter on why an unlimited atonement is important made an excellent conclusion.

The only negative thing that I noticed in this fine title is that I fear it is more likely to rile than persuade his opponents. At times, he would take his opponents to task for being over-the-top in their statements and would turn around and be overly harsh to them on the same page. Remember it seems that way to me, and I was on his side as I read.

Still, this book is a tremendous resource. It offers outstanding history and makes salient points that may be tough for those who hold to a limited atonement to answer. I highly recommend it.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

6 thoughts on “The Extent of the Atonement by David Allen

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