The Nature of the Atonement: Four Views

The Nature of the Atonement: Four ViewsI just received a new book from InterVarsity Press that I will be reviewing in a forthcoming edition of The Criswell Theological Review. When I finish the book (it’s in my queue!) and write the review, I will post it on this blog. In the meantime, I wanted to post a notice of its release.

The title of the book is The Nature of the Atonement: Four Views with contributions by Greg Boyd, Joel Green, Bruce Reichenbach, and Tom Schreiner. Boyd defends the Christus Victor view, Schreiner the penal substitution view, Reichenbach the “Healing” view, and Green the “Kaleidoscopic” view.

I am already familiar with Schreiner’s contribution as he was kind enough to share the essay with me before the publication of this book. I appreciate Schreiner’s approach because he does not claim that penal substitution is the only way to understand Christ’s atonement. His contention is that penal substitution is “the anchor and foundation” of all the other dimensions of the atonement. He writes:

The riches of what God has accomplished in Christ for his people are not exhausted by penal substitution. The multifaceted character of the atonement must be recognized to do justice to the canonical witness. God’s people are impoverished if Christ’s triumph over evil powers at the cross is slighted, or Christ’s exemplary love is shoved to the side, or the healing bestowed on believers by Christ’s cross and resurrection is downplayed. While not denying the wide-ranging character of Christ’s atonement, I am arguing that penal substitution is foundational and the heart of the atonement (p.67).

This book should prove to be a good primer to the issues at stake in the evangelical debate over the significance of Christ’s atonement. In any case, the book is timely as many people are leaving behind Anselm’s distinct contribution to the evangelical tradition.

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