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.
“Kant did see redemption taking place by means of a divine activity: the difference, and it is all the difference in the world, was that God is to be found in human moral reason and action, not encountered as a personal creator and redeemer.” (Page 7)
“If we are saved from radical moral evil by our innate capacity, we do not need to be saved by the cross because we save ourselves, albeit with the assistance of a God located within ourselves.” (Page 7)
“The root of human moral evil lies rather in the corruption of what is essentially good.” (Page 5)
“That the death of Jesus should be understood as the suffering of a penalty owed to God in exchange for human sin seemed to them for many reasons, some of them good ones, both morally and rationally abhorrent. Schleiermacher shares their view that neither sin nor the cross should be understood in penal terms.” (Page 12)
“the victory charted in the New Testament is as much human as divine” (Pages 57–58)
… the most significant attempt at reconstructing the doctrine of Atonement in the last two decades… a thought-provoking challenge to all Christians.
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…
The Actuality of Atonement is of value to anyone trying to think honestly and seriously about the Christian faith.
—Grace Theological Journal