In the midst of a troubled world, Christians believe in a good God who, as the Creator, has never lost interest in His broken creation. The key evidence for, and the chief symbol of, this divine commitment is the cross of Christ. This God, revealed in Scripture, has a project. Central to the divine strategy is Christ, His coming, and His cross. The troubles and calamities will end. The cross—which has been scandalous from the start—touches the individual, the church, and the wider creation. The cross makes peace, and brings shalom. The canon of Scripture presents a “divine comedy,” where the story of Jesus, His cross, and empty tomb are set in the framework of God’s plan to restore the created order.
The triune God has a project: to secure his people in his place under his rule living his way to his glory in his loving and holy presence. This is shalom or peace in the robust biblical sense of the word: rest from the enemies of peace, and richness of relationship with God and one another in a renewed created order. But there are obstacles to the project: Satan and human sinfulness for example. Atonement in broad terms is how God removes those barriers and achieves his purposes. In narrow terms it is how Christ—his coming, his cross, his coming to life again—are the linchpin of the divine plan to reclaim creation and believers with it..
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“The problem with Stott’s appeal to Hosea is that, as we saw previously, the prophet declares,” (Page 50)
“Paul discusses the sin of Adam in Romans 5, he uses a variety of ideas, which may be translated as in the esv ‘sin’ (hamartia, v. 12), ‘breaking a command’ (parabaseōs, v. 14), ‘trespass’ (paraptōma, v. 15) and ‘disobedience’ (parakoēs, v. 19).27 In fact, one of the contrasts between Adam and Christ that Paul draws is not one between pride (Adam) and humility (Christ), but the disobedience of Adam as opposed to the obedience of Christ (parakoē vs. hypakoē, Rom. 5:19).” (Pages 58–59)
“Living outside Eden as we do, our great need is peace in the rich biblical and relational sense of shalom: peace with God, with one another and for the cosmos itself.” (Page 67)
“In his argument for the necessity for atonement, Anselm famously says to Boso, ‘You have not yet considered what a heavy weight sin is.’8 To which may be added, ‘You have not yet considered who God is as scripturally revealed.’ Both considerations are vital to the doctrine of the atonement and to exploring its logic rather than what picture of God and ourselves will make us feel better in our own skins. Hence in this chapter we attend to the character of God, and in the following two, respectively, consider what we have become with the irruption of sin in creation and the problem it creates.” (Page 36)
“Christ’s faithful life and righteous death are both vindicated and validated by his resurrection from the dead and his subsequent enthronement at the right hand of the Father.” (Page 30)
Few if any themes are more central to the Bible than atonement. . . . My hope and prayer is that this volume will become a ‘standard’ contribution in the field, informing and enriching its readers as to what God achieved by sending his dear Son to the cross on our behalf. Eternity itself will not exhaust our wonder at these truths. This book, I am sure, will establish many in the right direction.
—D.A. Carson, research professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Graham A. Cole is Anglican Professor of Divinity at Beeson Divinity School, Birmingham, Alabama. Previously he served as professor of biblical and systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and principal of Ridley College, Melbourne. He is the author of God the Peacemaker (NSBT), Engaging with the Holy Spirit, He Who Gives Life and numerous articles in periodicals and books.