Reformed theologians of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were led by their doctrine of predestination to consider whether Christ had died only for "the elect." This work traces the way they tackled the extent of the atonement. Giving close attention to the Reformers, the debates of the Synod of Dort (1618-1619), and the Amyraldian controversy, it demonstrates that, up to and including the Swiss "Consensus" of 1675, the Reformed Churches were never able to achieve solid and lasting agreement on this point, and aims to explain why.
As it follows these debates, this work provides insights into the process of the construction of Reformed theology. It ends by suggesting that the long-lasting difficulties experienced by the Reformed over predestination and the extent of the atonement point to a need for a new departure by those who stand in the Reformed tradition today.
Endorsements & Reviews-
"In this careful historical study, in which the links between Reformed thought and medieval scholasticism are fully noted, the author shows that the incompatibility of the requirement that the Gospel be freely proclaimed to all with God's determination to save the elect only, lay at the root of early inner-Reformed and Reformed-Lutheran debates on the extent of the atonement." --Alan P. F. Sell, Acadia University Divinity College
"This analysis of the diversity of early Reformed thought on the extent of the atonement is the most careful and thorough examination yet available. It exposes the inadequacies of the most recent discussions, and will be essential reading for all future investigators." --David F. Wright, University of Edinburgh
G. M. Thomas
Michael Thomas earned a BA at the London Bible College (now London School of Theology) and has served as pastor at Baptist churches in the London suburbs. He was awarded a PhD in 1993 and the present work is closely based on his thesis.