REVIEW: “Greater Than Aaron”
Title: Greater Than Aaron: The Supremacy of Christ's Limited Atonement
Author: Josh Niemi
Publisher: Independently Published
Year: 25 January 2019
Available: $12.95 on Amazon
Length: 162 pages
Rating: ★★★★★ (5 Stars)
More than five hundred years after the birth of the Protestant Reformation and the theological developments which took place in the years following, the subject of Christ’s atonement, specifically its extent in relation to sinners, remains a significant source of contention in the Christian community to this day.
There are many reasons for this: from the pride inherent within the human heart that refuses to relinquish its own agency in the miracle of regeneration, to a lack of desire to actually thoroughly research the issue for oneself (or, in an overwhelming number of cases, simple ignorance), and to the widespread influence of the humanistic philosophy that has permeated much of society.
But what remains perhaps one of the greatest sources of confusion in this issue is the straightforward truth that the Old Testament has been practically (or should I say, shamefully) ignored far too many discussions of major theological significance—something we often see in debates surrounding the doctrine of God’s marvellous grace to poor, unworthy, wretches.
In his second book, entitled Greater Than Aaron: The Supremacy of Christ’s Limited Atonement, author Josh Niemi reckons to change that for the better.
The purpose of this work is clearly illustrated in the introduction, but a more concise summary can be found at expositoryparenting.org, wherein the author asserts to have embarked upon “a verse-by-verse study through Leviticus chapter 16, explaining the concept of atonement as found under the Old Covenant priestly system, exalting the doctrine of limited atonement as accomplished by the Lord Jesus Christ, and exposing the error of universal atonement historically set forth by Arminians.”
From the beginning, Niemi starts off this lofty theological enterprise with a bang, delving immediately into the meat of Leviticus 16 and bringing out the representative nature of Christ’s atonement from verses 1-4. The inability for sinful man to approach a holy God is firmly established, and the need is made readily apparent for a faithful high priest to act as a representative on our behalf in the presence of the Holy One. This representative, of course, is the God-man, Christ Jesus.
In his exegesis of Leviticus 16:5-10, the substitutionary aspect of the atonement is set forth, followed by an extended look at propitiation (the satisfaction of God’s righteous wrath against sinners in the suffering of His Son upon the Cross) from Leviticus 16:14, expiation (the “removal of guilt and sin that sinners have accumulated by their rebellion” (Pg. 106)) from verses 20-28, and finally, “an assembled atonement” (the atonement being made for a very specific group of people) from verse 29 to the end of the chapter.
Throughout the whole of the work presented before us is this common theme: before we can even begin to define the extent of the atonement, we must first grasp a sure knowledge of the intent behind it all. Only once we have rightly understood this awesome mystery can we hope to answer any of the questions which directly follow.
It is safe to say that on this front, Josh Niemi has amply delivered.
The most remarkable aspect of Greater Than Aaron is undoubtedly Niemi’s success in satisfactorily (nay, definitely) proving the absolute necessity for Christ’s atonement to be limited in nature to a very specific group of people—namely, His church, chosen in eternity past to bring glory to Himself in the ages to come-without diverging into the overly-philosophical arguments which often surround the subject (or, as Phil Johnson himself put it, a “hackneyed polemical argument about the extent of the atonement from some overzealous cage-stage Calvinist.”).
Instead, Niemi has stuck straight to the text, expositing it verse by verse and using his exegesis of the original Hebrew to faithfully deliver the intended meaning of the passage directly into the hands of his readers—and without once speaking over their heads in the process! Once again, we see the sufficiency of the Scriptures on full display, and the truth cannot be overstated: the Word of God is perfectly capable of defending itself; despite our machinations to try and force it into some preconceived theological paradigm, it always suffices, whatever the task may be.
In the aforementioned blog post, the author declares this selfsame conviction in forthright terms:
“What I believe sets this book apart from many others of the same subject matter is that this is not a philosophical approach to, nor a pragmatic defense of, limited atonement, but is instead a presentation of this vital doctrine straight from one of the greatest—and yet somehow neglected—texts concerning [the] atonement. Believers who otherwise struggle with the book of Leviticus will be pleased to see that this book walks through an entire chapter, examining the passage sequentially and explaining the details in a way that brings clarity without complexity. More than that, though, this book exalts the Lord Jesus Christ as the high priest for His people who accomplishes what Aaron, the first high priest of Israel, could only foreshadow.”
And the matter, as some might say, is settled.
In his featured review of the book, Nate Pickowicz contends:
“Working primarily from Leviticus, Josh layers on biblical argument upon biblical argument until he lands his conclusion with the force of an anvil. Well-researched, soundly exegeted, clearly written, and fiercely apologetic, Greater Than Aaron stands as [a] triumphant work, showcasing the supremacy of Jesus Christ’s limited atonement.”
Those who have actually read the word are only forced to echo this sentiment wholeheartedly. Indeed, I would encourage any reading this review to drop whatever currently occupies your thought and pick up Greater Than Aaron right away.
There stand many reasons why you should give it your time, number one being the supreme privilege of seeing God’s majestic plan for the redemption of creation through the work of His Son sensationally exhibited through the faithful exposition of Holy Scripture. Another equally motivating justification for those seeking further exhortation is that you will almost certainly grasp a greater comprehension of the Bible’s totality in the exercise of doctrine, throughout all the ages of the earth, from Genesis even to Revelation.
And a final incentive would be, of course, to enlighten those Saints (of which, unfortunately, there exist many) who have remained hitherto unmoved in spite of those attempts to push them past the false suppositions of an increasingly-secular Christian culture—and finally set aside any notion of a universal atonement for all men, in favour of the historical, conservative position taken by the vast majority of our theological forefathers, which is limited atonement.
On a concluding note, allow me to end this endorsement with the words of Josh Niemi himself:
“Leviticus is notorious for ending the ambitions of readers who embark on a Bible reading plan, and my hope is that Greater Than Aaron will change that. This is especially true for parents who are leading their children through God’s Word. Once you see the Lord Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of all that was embodied in the rituals of the Day of Atonement, I don’t think you’ll ever be able to “unsee” it. Instead, you’ll find that Leviticus 16 is one of the absolute best texts of Scripture to help others, children included, understand the cross. On that basis, it may become one of your most beloved portions of Scripture. Finally, as you consider what Jesus accomplished on the cross, in comparison to what Aaron foreshadowed in the tabernacle, my hope is that you would exchange the Arminian concept of universal atonement for the supremacy of Christ’s limited atonement.”