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The Atonement Debate: Papers from the London Symposium on the Theology of Atonement [Paperback]

David Hilborn , Justin Thacker , Derek Tidball
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: £11.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan (1 Dec 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310273390
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310273394
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 14 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 273,317 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

The Atonement made by Jesus Christ on the Cross at Calvary is essential but there are various views as to what it means. The only sure guide is Scripture. Here are some mens views of what it means, they are well worth reading, some you will agree with and some you will not. Read comparing scripture with scripture and that payerfully.

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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
3.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
By Helen Hancox TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Steve Chalke opened a can of worms with his book 'The Lost Message of Jesus' in 2003 when he cast doubt on the penal substitution theory of atonement and in July 2005 a symposium was held to discuss the issues. Various papers were given at the symposium and several of these are gathered together in this volume, some having been reworked. It's a collection of very different essays, some focusing strongly on exegesis of particular texts, others giving an overall view of the issues, several peppered with Greek and Hebrew text (which might cause problems for readers) and most assuming a fair knowledge of the overall theology of the atonement. Generally the papers are all erudite and well written with the obvious disadvantage of a fairly short space in which to discuss important issues.

Chapter 12 contained what I found the most helpful summary of the penal substitution theory along with its problems (although the writer, Oliver D Crisp, did not find these insurmountable). However the arrangement of the book felt so piecemeal that it was difficult to find much overall coherence. This book would serve better as something to dip into rather than read through (as suggested in the introduction).

Joel B Green pleads in his paper "...that we remind ourselves, often, that debates regarding the appropriateness of penal substitutionary atonement as an exposition of the saving message of the cross of Christ comprise an intramural conversation and not one that can serve to distinguish Christian believer from non-believer or even evangelical from non-evangelical." The very next essay by Garry Williams comments "I cannot see how those who disagree [with the penal subsitutionary view] can remain allied without placing unity above truths which are undeniably central to the Christian faith.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Food for Thought 7 Feb 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a useful book to add to your library.

Conservative Evangelicals have no problem agreeing that salvation comes through the atonement God effected by Jesus' dying and his resurrection. A debate has been raging however about how exactly Jesus' death was effective for us. This book gives a useful overview of the key issues.

In particular, some people question the doctrine that Jesus had to bear "punishment" at the hands of God. They say that his death, whilst necessary as a sort of ransom, and indeed substitutionary (dying in our place) - owed its effectiveness not to appeasing an angry God, but that there was some other, "deeper magic" at work (C S Lewis).

The debate came to the fore with Steve Chalke's controversial book "The Lost Message of Jesus" (2003). But Steve and his critics agree that the debate didn't start then. C S Lewis, in "Mere Christianity", had already written that he viewed Christ's death as helping man "out of a (fatal) hole" rather than involving any "punishment" as such.

The Evangelical Alliance convened the Symposium that has yielded this compilation because Steve Chalke's book seems to have brought matters to a head.

Twenty contributors explore the core theological issues from a variety of angles. This book is for those who think it is important to revisit key issues. Even Howard Marshall, presenting a paper that defends a moderated view of "penal substitution", says we can easily slip into faulty thinking about God's wrath:
"Where are these evangelicals who say that God punished Christ? Name them! Where are the evangelicals who will repudiate this statement, written by John Calvin: 'We do not, however, insinuate that God was ever hostile to him or angry with him.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Atonement Debate 5 Feb 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Interesting but as could be expected was totally one sided; taking no account whatsoever of either eastern or modern theology. As an attempt to justify the fundamentalist position it would convince those who hold that view but no one else.
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CONTENTIOUS SUBJECT FOR SOME 26 April 2011
Format:Paperback
The theology of the atonement is contentious for those who think that the traditional(?) evangelical understanding omits people who are not 'born again'. This book helps to explain what evangelicals (traditional?) believe that the Bible says. I expect that most people who read this book, because the atonement is important to them, will find that it contains a wide enough spread of opinions to reinforce their own and contest the others.
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Papers from the London symposium on the theology of atonement 1 Aug 2008
By Helen Hancox - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Steve Chalke opened a can of worms with his book 'The Lost Message of Jesus' in 2003 when he cast doubt on the penal substitution theory of atonement and in July 2005 a symposium was held to discuss the issues. Various papers were given at the symposium and several of these are gathered together in this volume, some having been reworked. It's a collection of very different essays, some focusing strongly on exegesis of particular texts, others giving an overall view of the issues, several peppered with Greek and Hebrew text (which might cause problems for readers) and most assuming a fair knowledge of the overall theology of the atonement. Generally the papers are all erudite and well written with the obvious disadvantage of a fairly short space in which to discuss important issues.

Chapter 12 contained what I found the most helpful summary of the penal substitution theory along with its problems (although the writer, Oliver D Crisp, did not find these insurmountable). However the arrangement of the book felt so piecemeal that it was difficult to find much overall coherence. This book would serve better as something to dip into rather than read through (as suggested in the introduction).

Joel B Green pleads in his paper "...that we remind ourselves, often, that debates regarding the appropriateness of penal substitutionary atonement as an exposition of the saving message of the cross of Christ comprise an intramural conversation and not one that can serve to distinguish Christian believer from non-believer or even evangelical from non-evangelical." The very next essay by Garry Williams comments "I cannot see how those who disagree [with the penal subsitutionary view] can remain allied without placing unity above truths which are undeniably central to the Christian faith." In some ways this characterises the tone of this book - a handful of articles by those looking outside the traditional evangelical view of penal substitutionary atonement, interspersed with a far larger number of articles from those upholding the view and attempting to counter the arguments from the other side. Although generally couched in polite language the overall feel of this book was of people on either side of a divide shaking their fists at each others' inability to see the 'truth' of their position.

Derek Tidball's paper is the final one in the book and, as such, apparently provides a conclusion to all the debate (and comes down on the side of penal substitutionary atonement). This reader felt that many of the points made on both sides weren't answered by the opposing view and, as such, the book didn't particularly move the debate on. Tidball does, however, state "I do not believe that penal substitution atonement is the only legitimate interpretation of the cross, or that it says all that needs to be said about the cross"; it's just a shame, when reading this book, that few others seem to hold with this view and that the overall feeling is one of conflict and disagreement.
5.0 out of 5 stars Good summary of an important debate 4 Nov 2012
By Ben - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The other reviewers have accurately summarised the content of this symposium. For me it was helpful in coming to a deeper understanding of Evangelicalism as a whole. It helped me see that Evangelicalism has never been a clearly defined organisation, with doctrinal boundaries to mark who is 'in' and who is 'out'. It is probably safe to say that a majority of Evangelicals are shocked by words like those of Chalke. Many have called for him to be expelled from the EA. But that has revealed the critical question: Who decides who is Evangelical and who is not? Who has the authority to accept or reject others as Evangelical? This book highlights the problem, but also highlights the fact that Evangelicalism is to ethereal a thing to doing anything potent about internal disagreement.
18 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important Reading 25 April 2008
By wisdomofthepages.com - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
On the cross of Calvary, God poured out his wrath on Christ, in the place of sinners.

Do you think that such a notion is a "twisted version of events," or "morally dubious," or a "huge barrier to faith"?

Do you think that the doctrine of penal substitution, God punishing Christ in our place, is a form of "cosmic child abuse"?

Did you know that there is an ongoing debate among some in the evangelical camp who are embarrassed and even hate the truth claim that Jesus' death was a divine wrath-bearing event?

A brand new book by Zondervan brings forth part of this discussion, focusing on the controversy as it appeared in the UK in the Evangelical Alliance. The Atonement Debate: Papers from the London Symposium on the Theology of Atonement is a collection of papers from a symposium held by the Evangelical Alliance and the London School of Theology.

The undermining of penal substitution is not new. Attacks and redefinitions of this core doctrine have been around for ages. However, in recent times, it was the book The Lost Message of Jesus by Steve Chalk that sought to take away the doctrine of propitiation while at the same time claiming a place at the evangelical table.

The Atonement Debate is a response to Chalke and others within the EA. It is long (360 pages), substantial, and contains chapters by numerous authors, including Chalke himself. Sections include "Biblical Foundations," "Theological Contributions," "Historical Perspectives," and "Contemporary Perspectives." In other words, biblical, systematic, historical, and contemporary apologetic angles are all addressed in this book.

Make no mistake, mixing up and altering the doctrine of the atonement is an offense against the gospel itself. This is a doctrine of first-order importance. The Bible is clear that sins must be atoned for, and it is equally clear that we cannot make that atonement for ourself. Only a sinless savior can become the "curse" for sinners. Only Christ's atonement can fulfill the work of both substitution and satisfaction. He substituted himself on behalf of sinners. He satisfied the demand of divine punishment (wrath, propitiation). And all that was done by Christ in suffering for us was done as a work of Trinitarian harmony.

Pastors, we must especially deepen our understanding of the biblical doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement, as well as the historical and contemporary attacks on it. This will involve diligent study and hard work. But the reward is found in knowing and defending and preaching a gospel that truly leads to life and salvation.
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