Mainstream Christianity tends to define salvation exclusively in terms of substitutionary atonement (Jesus died for me so that I can go to heaven when I die). While this is not incorrect, nor unbiblical, this definition of salvation is incomplete. Where does Israel fit into salvation? And what about the covenant? Most importantly, what about the kingdom of God that Jesus preached fervently? How do all of these dimensions that are central to the biblical text and its message fit into the bigger picture of salvation? Salvation in Fresh Perspective: Covenant, Cross, and Kingdom reminds readers that salvation is not centrally about the believer, but about God and his World Renewal Plan. Salvation, when properly framed by the entire text that runs from Genesis to Revelation, is not all about me and Jesus, but about God and his plan to renew the creation through the Jewish Messiah and his covenant people. Salvation in Fresh Perspective seeks to bring back into focus the often forgotten dimensions of the great story of salvation.
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It is a pleasure to commend this book to readers of all theological persuasions. Writing in a sprightly and engaging style, Ayars says things about the Biblical understanding of salvation that will irritate almost everyone in one way or another. Yet if the reader will not reject the irritation, but consider it carefully, it will like sand in the oyster, produce some pearls of fresh understanding and insight for which the author is to be thanked.
—John Oswalt, Visiting Distinguished Professor of Old Testament, Asbury Theological Seminary
We are indebted to Matt Ayars for taking the recent, and sometimes heated, conversation on the 'New Perspective' on Paul and especially his Roman Epistle, to a novel but necessary level. That novel level is to move the discussion beyond one that is confined to the Pauline take on justification by faith, and reflect on how the contributions of the 'New Perspective' may shed light and insight on the New Testament's reading of what the Wesleyans call the sanctified life. In the process Matt helps us to see that the doctrine of penal substitution as an explanation of Christ's Calvary death, while deeply enshrined in evangelical tradition, is on target but does not reflect the whole of biblical truth on this epochal event. Specifically, Matt demonstrates, magisterially in my judgment, that the penal substitution theory ends up emphasizing individual salvation (get saved and then you will go to heaven) to the exclusion of emphases such as salvation understood as also involving the reestablishment of Christ's reign on earth. Also, he observes correctly that any understanding of salvation, using the term in its broadest sense, must emerge from a reflection not only on Christ's priestly office (as in the penal substitution construct), but also from a reflection on Christ's prophetic and especially his royal office. I highly recommend this text.
—Victor P. Hamilton, Professor Emeritus, Old Testament Studies, Asbury University
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