We suggest that articulating definite atonement is similar to articulating doctrines like the Trinity or the two natures of Christ. The approach needs to be biblical, but not biblicist. No one text “proves” definite atonement, any more than one text “proves” the Trinity or the communion of attributes in christology. In the case of those doctrines, numerous texts are studied and their implications synthesized and their key terms explored in their biblical contexts and historical usage so that, taken as a whole, the doctrines of the Trinity or the two natures describe “a pattern of judgment present in the texts.” With the unfolding of a coherent pattern, these doctrines emerge as the most compelling ways of naming the Christian God or understanding the person of Christ. Although no one text proves the doctrines, several texts teach their constituent parts.So it is with definite atonement. It is not merely a “biblical” doctrine per se; nor is it a “systematic” construct based on logical or rationalist premises devoid of biblical moorings. Rather, definite atonement is a biblico-systematic doctrine that arises from careful exegesis of atonement texts and synthesis with internally related doctrines such as eschatology, election, union with Christ, christology, Trinitarianism, doxology, covenant, ecclesiology, and sacramentology. When both exegetical and theological “domains of discourse” are respected as such and taken together, then reductionist objections to definite atonement lose their force and this reading of the meaning of the death of Christ emerges as profound and faithful. This biblico-systematic approach can be viewed pictorially from two angles.
Jonathan Gibson, From Heaven He Came and Sought Her, 38