For years, I wanted to write a book about the atonement. In just a few weeks, it’ll finally be published. It’s titled The Cross in Context: Reconsidering Biblical Metaphors for Atonement and you can pre-order it today!
This post includes four things. First, I share a book trailer of the book. Second, you’ll find the summary shown on the book’s back cover. Third, I include a few early reviews. Finally, I offer an excerpt from the introduction. In the coming weeks, I’ll share more about and from the book.
Why is Reconciliation So Controversial?
How can a doctrine about reconciliation with God create so much controversy among God’s people?
Theologian Jackson W. believes Christians can gain clarity and unity on the doctrine of the atonement through a renewed attention to the biblical evidence. While theological theories are necessary and useful, they can obscure reality as much as clarify it. And we’re often ignorant of the role that cultural and historical context plays in shaping these views. Instead of beginning by comparing atonement theories, he argues, we need to delve deep into the Bible, where we find a handful of motifs that combine to form a richer, more robust theology of atonement.
The Cross in Context presents a perspective on the atonement that seeks to reconcile theological camps and enable Christians to interpret the Bible more faithfully. It draws from the entire biblical canon and considers the New Testament in light of its Old Testament background, focusing on the internal logic of Israel’s sacrificial system. Applying his intercultural ministry experience and expertise on honor and shame, W. also considers how to effectively contextualize the multifaceted message of salvation in diverse cultural contexts.
Combining missiology, theology, and biblical studies, The Cross in Context provides a refreshing and nuanced look at the atonement and what it means for the life and witness of the church.
A Few Early Reviews
“Jackson W. explores the interplay of metaphor and atonement—thus this book is about the core of salvation in the New Testament. Atonement is complex, but this is a reliable and well-written guide through the variety of biblical images. Its contextualization offers the key to understand the core of the mission of Jesus Christ. A must-read for all who want to know what the Christian gospel means in diverse cultures!”
Christian A. Eberhart, professor of religious studies at the University of Houston and author of The Sacrifice of Jesus: Understanding Atonement Biblically
“What would it look like if we allowed the apostle Paul’s statement that ‘Christ died for our sins’ to be truly explained ‘according to the Scriptures’ (1 Cor 15:3)? In this provocative book, Jackson W. carefully peels back layers of church tradition, systematic theology, and folk Christianity to reexamine what Scripture actually says about the death of Christ. The result is a whole-Bible approach to sin and atonement that mounts a stimulating challenge to scholars and laypeople alike. Whether or not you agree with his conclusions, you will undoubtedly come away with a deeper appreciation for the richness of what Christ’s death accomplished!”
Jerry Hwang, academic dean and associate professor of Old Testament at Singapore Bible College
“Given the importance of atonement and the breadth of imagery used in Scripture to describe it, any work on atonement is sure to invite criticism. As Jackson W. himself notes, this book will not avoid that fate. Still, it remains a rewarding read because of the light it sheds on some of the often underappreciated biblical imagery used to describe what Christ accomplished for sin-stained image bearers. Read, wrestle, discern, critique, and worship your way through this book. Even the critic will be grateful for the reminder of the gospel’s multifaceted salvation presented in The Cross in Context.”
Matthew Bennett, assistant professor of missions and theology at Cedarville University
“Jackson W. offers a book that needed to be written. It is challenging, insightful, intriguing, and stretching. Not all will agree with this book (W. tells us as much!), but no one should ignore it. Here we discover the multifaceted diamond that is Christ’s atonement.”
Heath A. Thomas, president of Oklahoma Baptist University
An Excerpt from the Introduction
I have grieved throughout the writing of this book. I will lose friends. This book will make some people wary of me. Ironically, this is what the doctrine of atonement has done to people. The very thing that should bring church unity instead undermines it.
Jesus’ death is central to Christianity. You’d think we could agree about why he died. In fact, few things divide the church as does the atonement of Christ, whose death brings about the reconciliation of all creation. While his sacrifice reconciles us to God, it seems to split the church into factions. This observation is as ironic as it is tragic.
I have found that many people, including Christian scholars, harbor doubts about this or that point of doctrine, but they know speaking up will cause a kerfuffle. The risk to their reputations or careers is too much. So, they choose to “stay in their lane” and away from controversy. Within some Christian subcultures, one can hardly challenge popular authors and conventional thinking. To do so means you will be branded a “liberal” or even “heretic.” If you listen to some talk about people with opposing viewpoints, the problem you’ll see is not mere division but disgust.
Without question, every reader will find something to disagree with in this book. By the time it’s published, even I might disagree with something it says. No writer or book is entirely right or wrong. This work is no exception.
Knowing that you’ll never get everything correct is paralyzing for some people; instead, it should be freedom giving. We can accept ambiguity, embrace nuance, and learn from others. As teachers, we must guard against heresy. But we should equally fear a lack of genuine humility….
Want to read more? Go pre-order now and spread the word with others. Thanks!!