The Atonement of God: Building Your Theology on a Crucivision of God (book review)
Why did Jesus really die? Was it to defeat sin? Was it to appease the wrath of an angry God? Was it so that God wouldn’t have to punish us because He punished Jesus? Was it to ransom us from the devil? Is God a child abuser? All these questions are answered within various theories as to why Jesus died. In this book, Jeremy looks at the four most popular theories: penal substitutionary theory, the moral influence theory, the ransom theory, and the Christus Victor theory. Utilizing the Christus Victor theory, he shows us how the death of God was a non-violent act from the actions of God, although it was certainly very violent from the actions of men.
Jeremy gives us a good solid understanding of the core teaching of each of them, contrasting the pros and cons of each one. His book clearly lays out a scenario in which the crucifixion of Jesus was not God pouring out His wrath on Jesus, nor God inflicting great punishment upon His beloved Son so that He wouldn’t have to inflict punishment upon humanity. His view is that God is a non-violent Father as expressed through the life of Jesus. It’s upon this non-violent view that Jeremy spends most of his time.
Don’t read this book if you are not willing to at least consider what he is saying. As a pastor, I have found that far too many Christians are close minded when it comes to looking at something that may go against what they have been taught all their lives. Most American Christians have been taught the Penal Substitutionary Theory and may have a hard time pulling away from that. As you read this book, keep an open mind and think about what Jeremy is saying, especially if you hold to any view other than the Christus Victor view.
Jeremy even explains his concept of why there is so much violence in the Old Testament. It is this subject here that I would love to sit down with him and have a conversation as I liked what he said, but I am not sure that I could totally put my views and thoughts in that same basket just yet. The violence of the Old Testament is still a concept that I am grappling with.
Overall, this is a great book. If you are looking to study the atonement and its differing views, then I would highly recommend this book. Jeremy is a great teacher and communicator. He has definitely done his research and is well versed in what he believes and why he believes it. He is definitely someone that I recommend that you follow. Through his books, blogs, and podcasts, I have been deeply challenged in my thinking, which, to me, is always a good thing!
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