J. McLeod Campbell and P.T. Forsyth on Christ’s Vicarious Ministry

John McLeod Campbell

This Friday (11 September) I will be presenting a paper at the Christian Thought & History/Pastoral Theology Seminar at the Department of Theology and Religious Studies (University of Otago).

The title of my paper is ‘“Tha mi a’ toirt fainear dur gearan”: J. McLeod Campbell and P.T. Forsyth on Christ’s Vicarious Ministry’.

All are most welcome to attend. The seminar will take place in Seminar Room 4.C.11, 4th Floor, Arts/Burns Building between 15.00–1615.


  1. Hello, I stumbled upon your site just today (23 Sept 2009). Might I also ask for a copy of your paper?
    Mike dot Cheek “at” kbr dot com

    I am currently working through Campbell’s “Nature Of The Atonement” for a second time, this time taking lots of notes. (At the end of my first reading I really didn’t “get it”) I must confess I have found it difficult to read Campbell but at the same time I am increasingly seeing its value. Years ago I had a (life transforming) class under James Torrance where I first became aware of Campbell, but at the time his book was out of print. Indeed, if not for James Torrance’ very high estimate of the book I don’t think I would have persevered with reading it.

    That being said, my reaction at the moment is one of increasing excitement over his ideas. I am currently on next to last chapter (and also excited to see the end of what has at the same time been a lot of work).

    You have also mentioned a facebook account where you’re currently discussing this book? Up to now have successfully avoided facebook. If I were to join I guess I have to create my own account there, and upload a picture of myself and so forth? Not sure I really want to do that, but it seems there is so little conversation about this book I might be tempted.

    Am still processing Campbell. One thing I am not as sure of is what is the scriptural backing for seeing the very strong association of vicarious repentance with Christ’s atonement. There is certainly a strong procession of intecessory prayer throughout the Scriptures. I think the case could be made that Jesus’ life and death is indeed in line with this intercessory motif, but it might benefit from a little more direct “shoring up” with Scriptures. Additionally, Campbell does not appear to address Isaiah 53. At first glance this would certainly seem to go better with a penal atonement. However, the final verse of this passage states that the Servant “made intercession for many.” If we see this as the culmination (and interpretation) of the passage, then we could interpret the preceding verses (in line with what Campbell would argue) as wounds from evil men, and that God permitted this, but He was not the immediate cause of it.

    Anyway, a few thoughts. Sent from Houston, Texas. Best regards.


  2. Hi Jason-
    I realize I am *very* late entering this conversation. I would love to read this paper if it is still available in some form. Is it? Thanks!


  3. Hi Tamara. Thank you for your interest in this paper, a version of which has subsequently been published in Evangelical Calvinism: Essays Resourcing the Continuing Reformation of the Church. Edited by Myk Habets and Robert Grow. Princeton Theological Monograph Series. Eugene: Pickwick Publications, 2012. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it if you get a chance to read it. Best, Jason


Comments welcome here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.