Adrian Warnock wrote on his blog this past Easter:
To be honest this Easter I am not angry at [Giles] Fraser, nor am I angry with Steve Chalke (see my posts on the Atonement Debate). At least these people are clear about what they believe and understand. No, the people I am angry with this year are the ones in the Evangelical hierarchy who want to brush these debates to one side in the name of “unity.” There can be no real unity between those who believe that to declare Jesus was punished for us is “cosmic child abuse” and those who believe it is the most precious truth of the Bible. One side of this debate has to be wrong, and badly wrong. They cannot both be right; even N.T. Wright cannot perform such theological magic! The minute anyone tries to make this truth a debatable matter over which evangelicals can legitimately disagree is the moment they lose the right to call themselves evangelical at all in my opinion.
Adrian is correct. One side of the debate is wrong. At the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals met in the spring of 2008 to defend Christ’s atoning work. The manuscripts from the conference have been complied and edited by Richard D. Phillips and published by Crossway in the new book Precious Blood: The Atoning Work of Christ.
Joel R. Beeke, W. Robert Godfrey, Philip Graham Ryken, R. C. Sproul, Derek W. H. Thomas (@DerekWHThomas), and Carl R. Trueman join Richard D. Phillips in seeking to set forth the Biblical doctrine of Christ’s work and its place in the history of Christianity.
Part one of Precious Blood looks the atonement in Scripture and each chapter is built around a particular passage in scripture:
Joel Beeke covers the necessary blood that covered the door posts in Exodus 12 in the Passover account.
Robert Godfrey looks at the redeeming blood in Psalm 49 that ransoms us from the sting of death.
Philip Ryken proclaims of the atoning blood in Romans 3 and demonstrates that the atonement provides redemption, justification and propitiation.
Richard Phillips recovers the cleansing blood in Hebrews 9 and the expiation or cleansing of sins in the life of the believer.
Robert Godfrey illustrates the offensive blood in Phillipians 3 and points out that the world is offended by the Christ of the cross and the cross of Christ.
R.C. Sproul ends part one with a look at the precious blood of 1 Peter 1 and the flawless nature of Savior.
That leaves part two of Precious Blood with a look at Christian history:
Derek Thomas writes
The early centuries of the Christian church were spent almost exclusively defending biblical definitions of the person of Christ, both in the relationship to the hypostatic union of the divine and human natures and to the Trinitarian relationship of Christ within the Godhead. (p 109)
Philip Ryken says that Anselm of Canterbury offers the definitive doctrine of the atonement and dominant influence during the medieval period.
Robert Godfrey takes us back to the Reformation. He points out that Rome’s theology still does not line up with Hebrews 9 and 10. From here, Godfrey covers Luther and Calvin and their important contributions.
Joel Beeke highlights
the Puritan conviction that Christ’s work outside of us (an objective, justifying salvation) finds its counterpart within us (a subjective, sanctifying salvation), thereby promoting an experiential piety that lives undes the shadow of the cross. (p 164)
Carl Trueman reviews the post-Reformation era. He starts with the Three Forms of Unity within the Reformed churches. Then he moves to the challenges (Rome, Arminianism, Amyraldianism, and Socinianism) before closing with a look at John Owen and Richard Baxter.
Richard Phillips ends Precious Blood with a look at the “non-violent” critics of penal substitutionary atonement such as the aforementioned Steve Chalke.
A few quotes from the book:
The blood points to Christ as God’s Lamb. We need to remind ourselves that much of the Old Testament, Exodus in particular, is God’s great picture book in which he illustrates in shadow and type what he is going to do at the most crucial hour in all of history, when the Messiah comes. (p 16)
The picture of redemption throughout the Old Testament is a picture of life coming out of death at the cost of death, life as being bought by a substitute who dies. That is the picture painted over and over in so many marvelous ways in the Old Testament.
God alone brings life to people caught up in death, and God alone brings life through a ransom paid, a ransom paid by a substitute so that the one whom God is bringing to life might live. (p 42)
Tyndale’s use of the term atonement began with the recognition that no single word in the English language fully did justice to Christ’s saving work on the cross.
Tyndale wanted a word that would express both the remission of our sin and our reconciliation to God. (p 48)
As we consider the three terms for atonement that Paul offers in Romans 3—word pictures that come form the marketplace, the law court, and the temple—we should see that all three of them are associated with blood. Indeed, each of these aspects of atonement depends on the blood of Jesus for its efficacy. Atoning blood satisfies the deepest need of the human race. (p 61)
I really enjoyed Precious Blood. The authors faithfully cover important biblical concepts in a simple, straight forward manner. The historical overview is more weighty, but doesn’t become overly technical or academic. No honest person who reads the Bible can say that the authors have misrepresented the doctrine of the atonement as presented in God’s Word. Each chapter glorifies Christ and the cross in God’s grand plan of salvation.
Precious Blood would make a great addition to your library. But don’t just buy, read it. Join the authors and proclaim “Worthy is the Lamb!”
Order Precious Blood: The Atoning Work of Christ