AVAILABLE FROM OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS
ATONEMENT AND JUSTIFICATION
English Evangelical Theology 1640-1790 - An Evaluation
Alan C. Clifford
xvi + 268pp hbk £45.50
A striking thesis ... a work of major importance for understanding the history of English-speaking Protestantism. ... It has breadth, for it covers a century and a half, and it has depth, for it deals with the central issues of the faith. And it is convincing. It will be difficult for any future commentator to claim that a continuous tradition of orthodox Calvinism can be marked off from Arminianising divergences. ... The theological map has been redrawn.
Dr Clifford’s well documented and carefully argued thesis will serve to stimulate further and no doubt passionate debate, endorsing as it does many of the conclusions reached by Dr R. T. Kendall’s Calvin and English Calvinism to 1649.
Dr Clifford in Atonement and Justification, following Dr Kendall, who experienced a rough ride amongst traditional Calvinists, takes us down the same road. (He too will provoke a forceful reaction, although he writes fairly and is an irenic spirit.) He has done his homework very thoroughly and his argument is well documented. ... He has made a very worthy and significant contribution demanding at least some new thinking.
A lucid and intelligent book. ... the quality of [Dr Clifford’s] reasoning precludes any curt dismissal of his ideas. ... It is to be hoped that [his] arguments and conclusions will be treated with the seriousness they so evidently merit.
As revisionist history it makes exciting reading, and it is hoped that it will spark off a lively debate on this subject.
Dr Clifford’s analysis of [the] debates is lucid, stimulating and of a delectable brevity never matched in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. ... If revisionism means reclassification, here we have it, and no scholar of the period should miss the sport.
A learned and provocative book.
Dr Clifford finds that in important respects Baxter’s mediating theology and Wesley’s Arminianism were more akin to Calvin’s thought than was the Calvinism of Owen and others. In some circles this is fighting talk! But those who wish to dissent from Dr Clifford’s conclusions will do well to read the texts as closely as he has done.
There is much that is compelling in Clifford’s argument and it may be added that he expounds some difficult and complex themes with an enviable clarity and sympathy.
Occasionally we come across a new book that is informative, stimulating, challenging and a delight to read. Such a volume I found in Dr Alan C. Clifford’s Atonement and Justification. ... Dr Clifford writes from the perspective of being a moderate Calvinist, and among the very many good things in this book is its fairness and irenic spirit. Dr Clifford writes from wide and careful reading, sound biblical and theological scholarship, and with a desire to pursue truth with openness and candour. ... [His] book is a welcome and positive contribution to the questions raised. ... Dr Clifford subjects the views of Calvin, Owen, Baxter and Wesley to close scrutiny and constructive criticism. While too many writers of lesser ability are content with second-hand evidence, Dr Clifford has worked long and hard on these writings. He finds strengths and weaknesses in all these positions and says so. If a die-hard Calvinist or Arminian is looking for a book merely to confirm his own opinions, he will find Dr Clifford’s work disturbing. ... One does not have to be a prophet to predict that in certain quarters Dr Clifford will not get an accolade for his conclusions!