Interview on Definite Atonement with David and Jonathan Gibson

March 18, 2014

by Jonathan Gibson

Fred Zaspel of Books at a Glance interviews David and Jonathan Gibson on the topic of their book, From Heaven He Came and Sought Her: Definite Atonement in Historical, Biblical, Theological, and Pastoral Perspective.

* * *

Books At a Glance: First, a mere curiosity question that we’re sure many of our readers will have. David and Jonathan Gibson—are you brothers? Otherwise related?

Gibsons: Yes, we are brothers, though one of us is better looking and more clever than the other one.

Books At a Glance: Please tell us something of your own backgrounds. Is the position reflected in this book part of your own Christian heritage? And why did you decide to pursue such an ambitious project centered around this particular doctrine? And what makes this subject such an important one?

Gibsons: We are sons of missionary parents, raised in a loving Christian home, where we were faithfully taught the gospel from our earliest days. However, our upbringing was not in the Reformed Christian tradition, so our belief in definite atonement was a journey for both of us, and we both arrived at it via different paths. David studied theology at the universities of Nottingham and King’s College London, before specializing in the history of biblical interpretation for his doctoral studies in Aberdeen; Jonathan studied at Moore Theological College, Sydney, and then completed his doctorate in Hebrew studies at Cambridge University. By separate routes, and at different times, we have come to see in the Scriptures the glorious truth of Christ’s death for his people, the church, which at the same time does not contradict his mandate to proclaim the gospel to the world.

Why did we pursue an ambitious volume on definite atonement? A number of years ago we noticed that since John Owen’s classic work The Death of Death (1647) there had not been a comprehensive and contemporary treatment of the doctrine from all the theological disciplines: historical, biblical, theological, and pastoral. When we read about the doctrine in contemporary works, we found that some of the traditional “Calvinistic” approaches were either too hasty in trying to prove the doctrine, or they were more biblicist than biblical and failed to see the doctrine as a biblico-systematic conclusion reached on the other side of a comprehensive synthesis of related texts and doctrines. There were also a lot of caricatures of the doctrine from opponents, which revealed that it had not been properly understood.

So we realised that there was a need for an in-depth, comprehensive, but careful treatment of definite atonement, one which looked at the doctrine from a number of perspectives. We wanted a volume written at the highest academic level, so we assembled a line up of leading scholars in the evangelical world…

…continue reading at Books at a Glance.

Jonathan Gibson

Dr. Jonathan Gibson (PhD, Cambridge) is professor of Old Testament at WTS.

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