Email To and Response From Dr. Allen

On June 3, I sent Dr. Allen, dean of the School of Theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, links to my articles on this site critiquing his arguments against Limited atonement [the last one can be found HERE].

Along with these links, I sent the following message:

As I believe that Limited atonement (better termed Particular redemption) is a doctrine taught in Scripture, it would be my hope to persuade you to abandon such arguments as those you offered in the lecture mentioned above. Barring this eventuality, I hope that the articles linked above will at least advance the conversation so that in your presentation at the John 3:16 Conference, the clear historical errors of your presentation last February will be corrected and the Reformed response to your exegesis and theology will be taken into account.

By His grace and for His glory,
-Andrew Lindsey

Re-reading this message, I think that I could have been more respectful and courteous, positive traits that I think were lost in my attempt to be brief.

As a dean of a major institution, I did not expect that Dr. Allen would actually respond to such an email, or, if he did, I expected his response to be (somewhat understandably) dismissive.

Instead, Dr. Allen emailed the following, just two days later:

Andrew,

Thanks for your email and concern. Rest assured I will do everything I can to be biblically, historically and theologically accurate in my presentation at the John 3:16 conference. While I appreciate your taking the time to listen and respond in the articles below, I must say that I don’t think it is my historiography that is in question. At any rate, I do hope you can attend the conference, and I would be delighted to meet you there and perhaps set aside some time to chat.

Blessings!

David L. Allen

Dean, School of Theology

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

I think that, on the whole, the above response was very gracious. I do hope, however, that Dr. Allen will reconsider the historical aspect of what I wrote, as I believe my response to his presentation was well-documented.

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8 Comments on “Email To and Response From Dr. Allen”


  1. I need help, and this blog looks like a great place to find some help since you are in the topic of Limited Atonement…I’ve been reading John Owen’s Life by His Death and so far I agree with everything I have read, until I reached the part about “Sufficient for all, Efficient for the Elect”..I’ve been struggling with that for quite a while now. For the most part I agree with what John Owen said in that part of the book, its just not the description I had read before about Sufficient for all, efficient for the elect. I had read that the atonement in its sufficiency is of unlimited value, making all men accountable. But it is limited in its redemptive efficacy only for the elect. Not at all what John Owen says, he argues that limited atonement teaches that salvation is made possible for everyone but only some are saved…I need clarification, maybe I understood incorrectly..or I don’t know! *tears* I need help..

  2. Arthur Sido Says:

    That was a very gracious response from Dr. Allen. I still find the whole concept of the “John 3:16 conference” to be silly. To run a conference that refutes another conference might be fine, if the prior conference was one sided. But both sides were presented quite well for the most part. It certainly seems that what the John 3:16 conference is all about is not refutation of the positions presented at Building Bridges, but rather aa protest against even having the conversation in the first place.

  3. Arthur Sido Says:

    hey how do you set up your blog so it automatically hyperlinks scriptures to the ESV webpage?

  4. Andrew Says:

    Rita,

    I’ve not read “Life by His Death,” so I’m not sure I can help with that one. Hopefully, one of our more knowledgeable readers will help respond.

    Arthur,

    I do not know how this site automatically hyperlinks ESV text. I bet Nathan White would be able to answer that question.


  5. Andrew,
    Its the abridged version of the book The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, but thanks anyway I’ll keep on searching.

  6. Darrin Says:

    Rita,
    I think that some here could comment on the Owen question (much better than I), but perhaps didn’t know that this is apparently a recent abridgement of that classic work.
    I appreciate your study of Owen and these doctrines. I do not speak from great familiarity with him, but my understanding is that he expounded on particular redemption in such a way that is completely consistent with historical Reformed theology.
    You say you had read elsewhere that “the atonement in its sufficiency is of unlimited value, making all men accountable.” I do not see that this is what makes men accountable. It is certainly sufficient in that it is in no way limited in power or in Christ’s ability to save, but as you correctly indicate, is effective only for the elect. However, men are responsible/ accountable for their sin, not because of what Christ offered.
    You indicate that Owen argues “limited atonement teaches that salvation is made possible for everyone but only some are saved”. Is that how he states it? I believe that the “possible for everyone”, though easily misunderstood, would again point to the sufficient power, or that men are not forcibly held back from coming, but in fact are unable to come because of their own depravity. These excerpts from the Synod of Dordt may be helpful here:
    “That some receive the gift of faith from God, and others do not receive it, proceeds from Gods eternal decree. For known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world, who worketh all things after the counsel of his will. According to which decree he graciously softens the hearts of the elect, however obstinate, and inclines them to believe; while He leaves the non-elect in His just judgment to their own wickedness and obduracy.”
    and
    “The death of the Son of God is the only and most perfect sacrifice and satisfaction for sin, and is of infinite worth and value, abundantly sufficient to expiate the sins of the whole world.”
    I’m quite confident that Owen concurred with this.


  7. Rita,

    I did not know that the book you mentioned was an abridgment of Death of Death, which I have read. I agree with Darrin’s comments (and thank him for taking the time to respond).

  8. genembridges Says:

    The Amyraldians and Arminians affirm something very different to the Reformed over the meaning of the term “sufficient for all.”

    The Amyraldians and Arminians affirm that it means that he atonement in its sufficiency is of unlimited value, making all men accountable.

    The Reformed agree only insofar as sufficiency is related to the perfection of the victim not the effects (hypothetical or otherwise) of the atonement.

    That’s a common mistake many people make.

    Turretinfan’s blog
    has an archive where all this is discussed at length in various articles.


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