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Calvin and the Atonement


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John Calvin had a profound understanding of the atoning work of Christ. In this book, Robert Peterson first examines what Calvin says regarding the love of God, the Incarnation, and Christ's offices of Prophet, Priest, and King. He goes on to consider Calvin's comments on other aspects of Christ's work: he is the Second Adam, the Victor, the Substitute, the Sacrifice, and the Example.

Resource Experts
  • Exegetical studies on John Calvin's views regarding the atonement in Christ
  • Scripture references link to your original language texts and English translations

Top Highlights

“The free love of God in Jesus Christ is the starting point for Calvin’s doctrine of the atonement” (Page 14)

“Perhaps the most important recent contribution concerning Calvin’s view on the extent of the atonement is Jonathan H. Rainbow’s dissertation, ‘Redemptor Ecclesiae, Redemptor Mundi: An Historical and Theological Study of John Calvin’s Doctrine of the Extent of Redemption.’14 Rainbow argues that Calvin agrees with his historical antecedents Augustine, Gottshalk, and his contemporary Bucer in advocating limited atonement. According to Rainbow, Calvin taught that Christ, by making a definite atonement, was redeemer of the church. In gospel proclamation and pastoral work, however, Calvin presents Christ as redeemer of the world, meaning all kinds of people, not each and every person.” (Pages 118–119)

“Jesus is the obedient second Adam, the victor, the legal substitute, the sacrifice, our merit, and, lastly, an example in his death on the cross.” (Page 125)

“That prerequisite for atonement in Calvin is the incarnation: God became a human being for our salvation” (Page 25)

“Clothed with our flesh he vanquished death and sin together that the victory and triumph might be ours” (Page 73)

Calvin dealt with Christ's saving ministry, as with all other biblical themes, in a different way. . . . Dr. Peterson's monograph lays out the elements of this synthesis in a way that Calvin himself would certainly have approved. The task has not been tackled in print before in so adequate a manner, and this essay is something of a milestone. I commend it heartily, both as a fine contribution to modern Calvin studies and as a worthy presentation of insights into a central theme of scripture from one of the greatest Bible expositors of all.

—J. I. Packer, Board of Governors' Professor of Theology, Regent College, Vancouver, Canada

  • Title: Calvin and the Atonement
  • Author: Robert A. Peterson Sr.
  • Publisher: Christian Focus Publications
  • Publication Date: 2009
  • Pages: 160

Robert A. Peterson was professor of systematic theology at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. He is author or editor of twenty books, including Salvation Accomplished by the Son: The Work of Christ (Crossway, 2012), Our Secure Salvation: Preservation and Apostasy (P&R Publishing, 2009), and, coedited with Christopher Morgan, Hell Under Fire (Zondervan, 2004).


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    Digital list price: $12.99
    Save $3.00 (23%)