Response to Driscoll’s Presentation of Un/Limited Atonement: Introduction

Mark Driscoll’s book Death by Love is commendable for many reasons. In this regard, I would like to direct readers’ attention to Tim Challies’ review of Death by Love found HERE. The only other positive point I would like to emphasize in addition to Challies’ review is that I appreciate how Driscoll demonstrates the necessary connection between theology and Christian experience; for example, many within evangelicalism today would tend to say we should not bother defending a doctrine such as “propitiation,” whereas Driscoll shows that this doctrine is not only necessary for our salvation, but also for our comfort from horrors of life in this sin-sick world: horrors such as child abuse (readers must see the chapter in Death by Love in which Driscoll expertly makes the connection just mentioned).

In mentioning a couple of concerns he has with this book, Challies writes:

Many readers will object to what Driscoll teaches in Chapter 8, “My Daddy is a Pastor.” This chapter is written to Gideon Driscoll, Mark’s youngest son. Here he encourages his son not to take faith for granted but does so in the context of a doctrine known as “unlimited limited atonement.” This is guaranteed to alienate most of his audience since so few people hold to it (Bruce Ware being one notable exception). While I’ll grant that Driscoll does a good job in explaining the doctrine (or doing so as well as it can be explained), it was not convincing.

Though it may be true that at this time “few people hold to” “unlimited limited atonement” (elsewhere referred to as “un/limited atonement”), I do think that it is important to for those who hold to “Limited atonement” to respond to Driscoll’s teaching on this subject. For this “un/limited atonement” position is not only being taught by Mark Driscoll, who is wildly influential in some circles, but (as Challies mentions) Bruce Ware- who is a popular professor at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the current president of the Evangelical Theological Society- holds this view as well. Unless we who hold to a traditional Reformed understanding of the extent of the atonement begin to formulate carefully thought out, biblical responses to “un/limited atonement,” many more will likely follow Driscoll and Ware into this error.

In the following posts, I will attempt to respond to some of the issues raised by “un/limited atonement” as presented in Chapter 8 of Death by Love.`

Explore posts in the same categories: Andrew, Doctrinal Issues

2 Comments on “Response to Driscoll’s Presentation of Un/Limited Atonement: Introduction”

  1. rajjilicious Says:

    Its not that “many more will likely follow Driscoll and Ware into this error”. Many others are and have moved in this direction even apart from their influence.

    The issue is actually far more complex than many make it. Some years ago, Phil Johnson (Pyro-Phil) wrote an article titled, The Nature of the Atonement, in which he mentioned that historically speaking there were 6 different views on the topic – and that among Calvinists. So its quite complex.

    God Bless,
    R. Rao (I’ve been trying to doc this issue and will add yours soon.)

  2. strangebaptistfire Says:


    I understand that there are certainly many nuances to the issue of the extent of atonement, and that discussion of the doctrinal concerns involved can be quite helpful.

    There are particular objections to the “Un/limited” view articulated by Driscoll however; especially the way that this view robs (as I will argue) “reconciliation” of its biblical meaning.


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