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From Heaven He Came and Sought Her: Definite Atonement in Historical, Biblical, Theological, and Pastoral Perspective (Gibson)

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There is a palpable sense of confusion—and sometimes even embarrassment—with regard to so-called limited atonement today, pointing to the need for thoughtful engagement with this controversial doctrine. Incorporating contributions from a host of respected theologians, From Heaven He Came and Sought Her stands as the first comprehensive resource on definite atonement as it examines the issue from historical, biblical, theological, and pastoral perspectives.

Offering scholarly insights for those seeking a thorough and well-researched discussion, this book will encourage charitable conversations as it winsomely defends this foundational tenet of Reformed theology.


1.  Sacred Theology and the Reading of the Divine Word: Mapping the Doctrine of Definite Atonement (David Gibson and Jonathan Gibson)

I. Definite Atonement in Church History

2.  “We Trust in the Saving Blood”: Definite Atonement in the Ancient Church (Michael A. G. Haykin)

3.  “Sufficient for All, Efficient for Some”: Definite Atonement in the Medieval Church (David S. Hogg)

4.  Calvin, Indefinite Language, and Definite Atonement (Paul Helm)

5.  Blaming Beza: The Development of Definite Atonement in the Reformed Tradition  (Raymond A. Blacketer)

6.  The Synod of Dort and Definite Atonement (Lee Gatiss)

7.  “Controversy on Universal Grace”: An Historical Survey of Moïse Amyraut’s Brief Traitté de la Predestination (Amar Djaballah)

8.  Atonement and the Covenant of Redemption: John Owen on the Nature of Christ’s Satisfaction (Carl R. Trueman)

II. Definite Atonement in the Bible

9.  “Because He Loved Your Forefathers”: Election, Atonement, and Intercession in the Pentateuch (Paul R. Williamson)

10. “Stricken for the Transgression of My People”: The Atoning Work of Isaiah’s Suffering Servant (J. Alec Motyer)

11. For the Glory of the Father and the Salvation of His People: Definite Atonement in the Synoptics and Johannine Literature (Matthew S. Harmon)

12. For Whom Did Christ Die? Particularism and Universalism in the Pauline Epistles (Jonathan Gibson)

13. The Glorious, Indivisible, Trinitarian Work of God in Christ: Definite Atonement in Paul's Theology of Salvation (Jonathan Gibson)

14. “Problematic Texts” for Definite Atonement in the Pastoral and General Epistles (Thomas R. Schreiner)

III. Definite Atonement in Theological Perspective

15. Definite Atonement and the Divine Decree (Donald Macleod)

16. The Triune God, Incarnation, and Definite Atonement (Robert Letham)

17. The Definite Intent of Penal Substitutionary Atonement (Garry J. Williams)

18. Punishment God Cannot Twice Inflict: The Double Payment Argument Redivivus (Garry J. Williams)

19. The New Covenant Work of Christ: Priesthood, Atonement, and Intercession (Stephen J. Wellum)

20. Jesus Christ the Man: Toward a Theology of Definite Atonement (Henri A. G. Blocher)

IV. Definite Atonement in Pastoral Practice

21. Slain for the World? The “Uncomfortability” of the “Unevangelized” for a Universal Atonement (Daniel Strange)

22. “Blessèd Assurance, Jesus is Mine”? Definite Atonement and the Cure of Souls (Sinclair B. Ferguson)

23. “My Glory I Will Not Give to Another”: Preaching the Fullness of Definite Atonement to the Glory of God (John Piper)



David Gibson (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is minister of Trinity Church in Aberdeen, Scotland. Previously he served as a staff worker for the Religious and Theological Studies Fellowship (part of UCCF) and as an assistant minister at High Church, Hilton, Aberdeen. Gibson is also a widely published author of articles and books such as Rich: The Reality of Encountering Jesus and Reading the Decree: Exegesis, Election and Christology in Calvin and Barth.

Jonathan Gibson is currently working on a PhD in Hebrew Studies at Cambridge University. He studied theology at Moore Theological College, Sydney, Australia, and is author of historical and biblical articles in Themelios and Journal of Biblical Literature, as well as "Obadiah" in the NIV Proclamation Bible.


“A massive product of exact and well-informed scholarship . . . with landmark significance. . . . I give this book top marks for its range of solid scholarship, cogency of argument, warmth of style, and zeal for the true glory of God. I recommend it most highly.” — J. I. Packer, Board of Governors' Professor of Theology, Regent College

“I cannot imagine that this book could have been published twenty-five years ago: there were not at that time enough well-informed theologians working in the Reformed heritage to produce a volume of such clarity and competence. Whatever side you hold in this debate, henceforth you dare not venture into the discussion without thoughtfully reading this book, which, mercifully, makes argument by stereotype and reductionism a great deal more difficult. Above all, this book will elicit adoration as its readers ponder afresh what Jesus achieved on the cross.” — D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

“The topic is worthy enough. Yet the lineup of contributors to this volume makes this, in my view, the most impressive defense of definite atonement in over a century. Beyond rehearsing traditional arguments, first-rate historical, biblical, and systematic theologians bring fresh angles and exegesis to bear. From Heaven He Came and Sought Her is a gift that will no doubt keep on giving for generations to come.” — Michael Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California; author, Pilgrim Theology

“This is the definitive study. It is careful, comprehensive, deep, pastoral, and thoroughly persuasive.” — David F. Wells, Distinguished Senior Research Professor, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

“There is a conventional wisdom that seems to believe definite atonement is the weakest of the five heads of doctrine confessed at the Synod of Dort. But you may come away from this book believing it is the strongest, in its historical attestation, biblical basis, and spiritual blessing. Written by first-rate exegetes and theologians, this book covers all the difficult issues and emerges with a highly persuasive and attractive case. Highly recommended!” — John M. Frame, J. D. Trimble Chair of Systematic Theology and Philosophy, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando