Monday, March 29, 2010

Embracing Grace Book Review

“The Gospel is more like a piece of music to be performed than a list of ideas to endorse.”

With those words Scot McKnight launches the reader in to an extremely helpful and often times much needed reminder of what the Gospel of Jesus Christ actually entails. This book represents a clear synopsis of the overall narrative of Scripture, which allows the reader to make sense the message and actions of Jesus within a context of the developing story.

For McKnight, the Gospel is about the restoration of cracked eikons. McKnight begins with the story of Genesis, which is where any explanation of the Gospel must begin. For too often the Old Testament has been discarded as the history of Israel, containing only archaic laws and commands, which were clearly replaced by the ministry of Jesus. McKnight traces human beings need for the Gospel all the way back to the garden of Eden, where human beings are created in the image of God [Genesis 1], and are subsequently cracked [Genesis 3], and in need of restoration.

Jesus represents the true eikon, the one in whom all things are contained. In Jesus we see a true reflection of what it looks like to be human. From the Genesis story we also see a clear reflection of what the Gospel is all about. The death and resurrection of Jesus provide restoration of not only the cracked eikon, but also of the entire world. The Gospel is bigger and greater than we have made it out to be, involving not just our own personal salvation, but the restoration of the entire world.

The reality of judgment must also be faced when speaking about the restoration of cracked eikons. Exclusion is the way in which McKnight chooses to speak about the reality of judgment for those who choose to reject the restorative power of the Gospel, and instead choose their own path. In the garden Adam and Eve were excluded from fellowship with God, and allowed to pursue their own selfish ambitions, we too face the same sort of choice. We are free to choose our own path apart from God, only to end up excluding ourselves from God’s restorative justice. All of this, McKnight rightly points out, happens in the context of community.

McKnight's chapter on theories of the atonement is worth the price of the entire book. The atonement accomplishes so much that no single theory can possibly contain it. McKnight carefully walks through different theories of the atonement, pointing out the teachings of each one, and the validity each one possesses for a well-rounded theology of the cross. Any student of theology would do well to read McKnight’s chapter on the atonement. If more pastors were to glimpse the broad brush with which McKnight understands the atonement preaching on the Gospel would improve exponentially.

An excellent read, I highly recommend it for any serious student of theology.

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