10 recent books about the cross, atonement, resurrection and more ALL 20% OFF

As we move closer to Holy Week and the experience of Jesus in Jerusalem, I hope you have a chance to peek into a book or two about the work of cross. In a way, it all comes down to this, doesn’t it? Christianity simply doesn’t exist without the way of the cross.

There are older classics I’ve suggested before; one can hardly do better than The Cross of Christ by John Stott. Deeper and wider, there is the masterpiece by Michael Gorman, Cruciformity: Paul’s Narrative Spirituality of the Cross, now in a 20th anniversary edition with a good forward by Nijay Gupta. I say every year (and have said in an earlier Lenten post) that Fleming Rutledge’s collection of Holy Week sermons entitled The Undoing of Death, is one of my most valued books. You should order it today if you don’t have it. More provocative, but extraordinary, is James Cone’s 2011text, The Cross and the Lynching Tree. And I have regularly recommended the very readable and thorough The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion by N.T. Wright which surveys every major Pauline passage about the cross. It’s a great book, perfect for this time of year.

Here are 10 (mostly) recent ones about the cross, atonement theologies, and, yes, resurrection and hope. Several are pretty academic while a few are quite lovely for more ordinary readers. All are 20% off. Just scroll down and use the order link at the very bottom of this list. May these thoughtful books help you stay, in the words of the old hymn I sang as a child, “near the cross.” And anticipate the victory of resurrection.

Rethinking the Atonement: New Perspectives on Jesus’s Death, Resurrection, and Ascension David M. Moffitt (Baker Academic) $35.00              OUR SALE PRICE = $28.00

When N.T. Wright writes the foreword and Richard Hays calls a book “game-changing” and Amy Peeler says it has “not only changed how I view Hebrews but how I conceive of my faith” and Madison Pierce of Western Theological Seminary calls it “spectacular” — well. Wow.

It is, in a way, a collection of connected essays on themes from the ancient New Testament letter called Hebrews. Moffitt teaches New Testament at Saint Andrews in Scotland and is considered one of the great Biblical scholars working today.

Alan Torrence, quite the heavyweight scholar himself, says “It will no longer be possible to write on the atonement, let alone Christology, without engaging in detail with the exegetical arguments that Moffitt presents. I cannot recommend this remarkable volume highly enough.”

The Cross in Context: Reconsidering Biblical Metaphors for Atonement Jackson W. (IVP Academic) $25.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $20.00

Anyone who has shared the gospel news with skeptics or unchurched folks knows that we sometimes grapple to offer reasons to believe that connect with our conversation partners. We try this line of thinking and that; we use Bible stories as we can, and move from metaphor to metaphor. The gospel allows us to have our debts cancelled; it frees us from our captivity; it invites us to be adopted; it offers forgiveness from guilt; we are recruited into a better Kingdom; we are washed clean, we belong to a new family, we are reconciled.

How can we gain and share more clarity about the variety of meanings of the cross and how can we be open to the many ways in which it all gets said in the Bible? Firstly, this theologian suggests, we must know the Biblical material. Instead of comparing theories of the atonement, we need to delve deeper into the Biblical story, where we “find a handful of motifs that combine to form a richer, more robust theology of the atonement.”

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

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

The Cross-Shaped Life: Taking on Christ’s Humanity Jeff Kennon (Leafwood Publishers) $15.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $12.79

I respect this author a lot — he is the director of the Baptist Student Ministry at Texas Tech. This book, as you might guess, is clear and pastoral and while not without challenge, really uplifting. He cites famous authors, heavy theologians, and a bit of pop culture. It’s a handsome volume, well arranged and a very, very nice book.

Kennon notes that “in the cross, we discover not only who God is but who we are made to be.” We all want to affirm that we are made in God’s image and in doing so —harkening to the inherent dignity and worth we all have — we cannot forget the cross. As he says, “after all, God came, took on our likeness, and died on the cross. So what does it mean to live in the image of a God who is willing to die on a cross?”

That is a huge question, isn’t it? The Cross-Shaped Life takes you into the story of God from creation to salvation, but it culminates in Paul’s words found in Philippians 2: 5 – 11. Unpacking that helps him make his case that the truth is that “we only discover who we truly are when we live lives of humility, service, and sacrifice on behalf of others.”

This is outstanding. Listen to generative scholar and very reliable voice Michael Gorman:

In this insightful and readable book, Jeff Kennon tells the biblical story of how we are made to fulfill our human vocation by living a cruciform, or cross-shaped, life of service and sacrifice-of Christlike love for God and neighbor. Christians of all ages and churches need such a book, and such a life. — Michael J. Gorman, Raymond E. Brown Professor of Biblical Studies and Theology, St. Mary’s Seminary & University, Baltimore Cruciformity: Paul’s Narrative Spirituality of the Cross

The Crucifixion of the King of Glory: The Amazing History and Sublime Mystery of the Passion Eugenia Scarves Constantinou (Ancient Faith Publishing) $22.95  OUR SALE PRICE = $18.36

This book came out just a year or so ago and the author — an Orthodox scholar — has gotten a good bit of publicity, rightly so. She is both a Biblical scholar and an attorney and is well positioned to help us not only explore these events that are so central to our salvation but to frame it all by the first-century historical and religious context in which the Crucifixion took place.

She promises to “put modern readers in the center of the events of Christ’s Passion” bringing the best of modern scholarship to bear (there is a little bit in the beginning on ‘the postmodern mind’) while “keeping her interpretation faithful in every particular to the Orthodox tradition.” It’s a thick, handsome paperback book.

Participation and Atonement: An Analytic and Constructive Account Oliver Crisp (Baker Academic) $29.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $23.99

This hardback is scholarly, and claims to “set out a new, comprehensive account of the nature of the atonement, exploring how this doctrine affects our participation in the life of God and in the shared life of Christian community.”

That line is vital, showing how this book (which certainly doesn’t break with the broad tradition of Christian thinking) moves constructively towards a systematic study of how understanding the atonement can help us realize our deeper union with God and our role in the fellowship of the redeemed.

As Lucy Peppiatt (of the Westminster Theological Centre in the UK) says, it is “rich, nuanced, and full-orbed” bringing “new and salient insights to what Paul calls the “things of first importance.”

Gavin D’Costa, of the University of Bristol, noting Crisp’s balanced approach and philosophical mind, says that “this is one of the most important recent treatments of the doctrine of the atonement.”

Proclaiming the Scandal of the Cross: Contemporary Images of the Atonement edited by Mark D. Baker (Baker Academic) $24.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $19.20

This book is somewhat older and we are pleased to have a few left. It ought to be better known, I think, because there is no other resource quite like it.

Dr. Baker (with a PhD from Duke) is a professor of mission and theology at Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary in Fresno, California. Here offers a compendium of about 20 short readings — some quite clever and all very interesting — that offer a glimpse into what the cross is about. Hooray for these varying voices, these different insights, this array of men and women who offer a piece of the puzzle, so to speak. Proclaiming the Scandal of the Cross explores the need for “contextualized atonement theology” and offers these creative examples of how the cross can be proclaimed today in ways that are both faithful and relevant. And maybe transformative.

Here we have C.S. Lewis and Brian McLaren; Frederica Mathewes-Green and Rowan Williams; Luci Shaw and Gwinyai Muzorewa; Chris Friesen and Curtis Chang. After each short reading, Baker does an expert job saying why he chose this excerpt, what to see in it and get out of it, and how it fits the larger picture. His words are very helpful and highly recommended.

Perhaps all of us shudder to think how narrow our earliest understanding of the atonement was. Mark Baker’s book offers us a treasure chest filled with complementary truths presented in distinct and surprising packages….This collection is an outstanding contribution to widen our comprehension and deepen our adoration!  Marva J. Dawn, Talking the Walk: Letting Christian Language Live Again

“He Descended to the Dead” – An Evangelical Theology of Holy Saturday Matthew Y. Emerson (IVP Academic) $30.00  OUR SALE PRICE = $24.00

I have often said, if it comes up, how blown away I was by a long, serious read many years ago on this topic, the brilliant (and still available) Eerdmans book by Alan Lewis, Between Cross and Resurrection: A Theology of Holy Saturday. It remains a formative read for me and I recommend it.

This one is not brand new but is much more recent. I was captivated by the first page as he cites the moving song “The Fourth of July” from Sufjan Stevens’s album Carrie and Lowell. (Okay, he had me right there.) Also, he has a passing reference to “Drum” by the black poet Langston Hughes, and copies “No Worst, There Is None, Pitched Past Pitch of Grief” by the Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins. So, yes, as Sufjan’s refrain has it, “we’re all gonna die.”

This fresh book examines this controversy, the meaning of the old phrase “the harrowing of hell”, and attempts to formulate a coherent and theologically plausible for understanding what went on between, as Lewis has it, “between cross and resurrection”  Rave comments from everybody from Fred Sanders at Biola  in California and Michael Bird at Ridley College in Australia. Emerson is a professor at Oklahoma Baptist University.

{As a very germane aside, although not exactly on the death or resurrection of Christ, I really, really like the excellent book by A.J. Swoboda, A Glorious Dark: Finding Hope in the Tension Between Belief and Experience (Baker; $15.00.) which is a honest, raw, evangelical reflection on the Triduum, or the three days.

The publisher explains:

On Thursday as they ate the Passover meal with Jesus, the disciples believed that the kingdom was coming and they were on the front end of a revolution. Then came the tragedy of Friday and the silence of Saturday. They ran. They doubted. They despaired. From their perspective, all was lost. Yet, within the grave, God’s power was still flowing like a mighty river beneath the ice of winter. And then there was Sunday morning.

Real, raw, and achingly honest, A Glorious Dark meets us right in those uncomfortable moments when our beliefs about the world don’t match up with reality. Tackling tough questions like Why is faith so hard? Why do I doubt? Why does God allow me to suffer? and Is God really with me in the midst of my pain? A. J. Swoboda invites us to develop a faith that embraces the tension between what we believe and what we experience, showing that it is in the very tension we seek to eliminate that God meets us.}

Resurrection Hope and the Death of Death Mitchell L. Chase (Crossway) $17.99                      OUR SALE PRICE = $14.39

Last Sunday in my adult ed Sunday School class I was holding forth about Christ defeating Death. Death in the Bible, I wavered, means not only our own personal morality but the disruption and dysfunction of the whole cosmos. Christ’s resurrection defeats death (and we are given the gift of eternal life) but it also defeats “capitol D” Death, that evil force that has held captive the whole cosmos. Christ’s cross disarms the powers and his resurrection is the “first fruit” of a whole new world that is promised.

I had not read this book as I was preparing for that lesson but it sure seems to provide a good, conservative, Biblical foundation for this bigger picture of what the cross and resurrection accomplishes.

I have recommended before these meaty, small works in the “Short Studies in Biblical Theology” series. They are intentional about showing the unfolding drama of Scripture and the way Biblical truth can be seen from the whole story of God.

In one of the best contributions to the Short Studies in Biblical Theology series to date, Mitchell Chase clearly and succinctly presents what is at the heart of hope set before us in the gospel — unending, embodied, glorious resurrection life on a a renewed earth.  — Nancy Guthrie, Even Better Than Eden: Nine Ways the Bible’s Story Changes Everything about Your Story

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ: Exploring Its Theological Significance and Ongoing Relevance W. Ross Hastings (Baker Academic) $26.99  OUR SALE PRICE = $21.59

As the back cover of this recent book says, “Believing in the resurrection is one thing. Knowing what it means is another.” I love how this reveals hidden depths of the theological significance and ongoing relevance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ for “our being, our salvation, Christian life this, and our future hope.” I appreciate that he uses language of vocation when talking about our calling to live in light of the risen Lord. Ross Hastings (with two PhDs) teaches at Regent College in Vancouver, BC and knows how to make serious Bible teaching lively and relevant. There are discussion questions, too, making this a good study for a willing book club.

In this book Ross Hastings considers the vitality and importance of the resurrection of Christ in a fully worked out theological account of the Christian life. From discussion of the historicity of the resurrection, to its importance in our understanding of the atonement and our participation in Christ’s work, and on to the implications it has for life today and in the hereafter — this is a work that has a broad sweep, penned by a deft theological hand.  — Oliver D. Crisp, University of St. Andrews; Participation and Atonement

In The Resurrection of Jesus Christ, Ross Hastings demonstrates how central the resurrection is to the gospel, to Christ’s identity, and to our identity in Christ. Evangelical readers in particular will have their minds stretched and their spirituality enlarged by the dynamic resurrectional reality to which this book bears witness. — Michael J. Gorman, St. Mary’s Seminary & University; The Death of the Messiah and the Birth of the New Covenant: A (Not So) New Model of the Atonement

This is a book not simply for annual Easter preaching but for everyday resurrection living. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ traces out the creation-affirming, salvation-expanding, hope-declaring theological trajectories and practical implications of Christ’s resurrection for full human living. Learned, pastoral, and practical, Hastings makes much of the resurrection and so makes much of Jesus, presenting a brilliant vision of Christ in all his redemptive resurrection splendor. — Philip F. Reinders, lead pastor, ClearView Church; Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible Through the Year

Union with the Resurrected Christ: Eschatological New Creation and New Testament Biblical Theology G.K. Beale (Baker Academic) $49.99   OUR SALE PRICE = $39.99

This is brand new and I’ve only glanced though hefty table of contents and perused the many footnotes. Years in the making by one of the most prolific serious Biblical scholars writing today, this is a sequel to his renowned (and massive) 2011 A New Testament Biblical Theology.

Here, they promise, Beale “fleshes out nineteen significant theological realities and benefits of the believers union with the resurrected Christ.

Richard Gaffin, emeritus prof at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, notes that “This volume represents the matured culmination of much of Beale’s decades-long biblical-theological work.” After a serious commendation, he says it is “truly a magnum opus.”

This is one of the most significant works, I am sure, on this topic — what Dr. Gaffin calls “a virtual encyclopedia.” It is, nicely, packed with application sections, too hoping to show at least somewhat more practical implications this scholarly theological vision.

“Ultimately,” says one reviewer, “coursing through the pages of Beale’s study is a sense of the victory that Christ’s own share in the new creation and the Spirit.” Just over 550 pages.  Wow.



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