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The Actuality of Atonement

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In a masterly examination of both the Christian doctrine of Atonement and the nature and working of theological language, Professor Gunton reassesses the doctrine and the language in which it is expressed in the light of modern scholarly developments. He explains how the traditional metaphors of Atonement, drawn from the battlefield, the altar and the law courts, all express something of the meaning of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus—and examines their bearing on human life in today’s world.

Taking the crisis of rationalism as his starting point, Gunton explores both the Christian doctrine of Atonement and the nature and working of theological language. He then considers the nature of metaphor, and argues that far from being an abuse of language, it is crucial to rational engagement with the world.

Praise for the Print Edition

… the most significant attempt at reconstructing the doctrine of Atonement in the last two decades… a thought-provoking challenge to all Christians.

—Christoph Schwobel

This is a well-written book which deserves a wide readership.


… a stimulating contribution to the contemporary academic debate on the doctrine of Atonement…


… clearly written and original contribution to the doctrine of Atonement…

Theology Today

The Actuality of Atonement is of value to anyone trying to think honestly and seriously about the Christian faith.

Grace Theological Journal

Product Details

  • Title: The Actuality of Atonement: A Study of Metaphor, Rationality and the Christian Tradition
  • Author: Colin E. Gunton
  • Publisher: T&T Clark
  • Publication Date: 1998
  • Pages: 222

Colin E. Gunton (1941–2003) was professor of systematic theology at King’s College in London from 1969 until his death. He was appointed professor of theology in 1984 and then served as head of the Department of Theology and Religious Studies from 1993–1996. In 1992 Gunton delivered the Bampton Lectures at the University of Oxford and in 1993 he delivered the Warfield Lectures at Princeton Theological Seminary. Together with John Webster, Gunton co-founded the International Journal of Systematic Theology.

Gunton is often cited as one of the most important British theologians of his generation. Just before his death, he was awarded the earned D. D. by the University of Oxford, where he had taken his three previous degrees. Also just before his death, King’s College planned to make him a fellow of the college, its highest honor, which was then awarded posthumously.

He has authored several works, including The Doctrine of Creation: Essays in Dogmatics, History and Philosophy, The Actuality of Atonement, Christ and Creation, and the titles in the Colin E. Gunton Theology Collection.

Sample Pages from the Print Edition


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  1. Aaron Krueger, LMHC, MFT, MDiv


Digital list price: $27.99
Save $7.00 (25%)