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Christ's Doctrine of the Atonement


George Smeaton

George Smeaton (1814-1889) was a minister in the Free Church of Scotland and professor of New Testament Exegesis at New College, Edinburgh.

Our Review

George Smeaton’s works on the atonement are among the most important ever published in evangelical theology. He published a second volume entitled, The Apostles’ Doctrine of the Atonement in 1870. Theologically speaking, the atonement refers to the vicarious work of Christ on behalf of lost sinners. It encompasses everything he, as our substitute, accomplished in his life and especially his death on the Cross. In Christ’s Doctrine of the Atonement, Smeaton surveys the various sayings of Christ in relation to his anticipated (at that time) work on the Cross. It may surprise you how much Jesus said about his own death and what it would accomplish in regard to his people. Here are just a few examples: John 3:14-15: And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life; Mark 10:45: For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many; John 10:11: I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep; Matthew 26:28: For this is my blood of the New Testament which is shed for many for the remission of sins. Smeaton takes these and many other sayings that appear in the Gospels and categorizes them theologically. In this way he develops a doctrine of the atonement as taught by Christ himself. The work is detailed and erudite. He displays a profound familiarity not only with Scripture, but also with the various theological views of the German rationalists of his day. Although this book is very important and one that pastors especially ought to be familiar with, yet it certainly should not be the first book you pick up on the subject. I highly recommend it for someone who is truly interested in orthodox theology.

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