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The Nature of the Atonement: Four Views [Paperback]

By James Beilby (Editor), Paul R. Eddy (Editor), Gregory A. Boyd (Contributor), Joel B. Green (Contributor) & Bruce R. Reichenbach (Contributor)
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Item Specifications...

Pages   208
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.96" Width: 6.08" Height: 0.61"
Weight:   0.15 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Nov 9, 2006
Publisher   IVP-InterVarsity Press
ISBN  0830825703  
EAN  9780830825707  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Jesus died for our sins, but how to understand and appropriate his saving death is still much debated. Here four leading positions are outlined and defended: Gregory A. Boyd on Christus Victor, Thomas R. Schreiner on penal substitution, Bruce R. Reichenbach on healing, and Joel B. Green on a kaleidoscopic view. 190 pages, softcover. InterVarsity.

Publishers Description
A long history of biblical exegesis and theological reflection has shaped our understanding of the atonement today. The more prominent highlights of this history have acquired familiar names for the household of faith: Christus Victor, penal substitutionary, subjective, and governmental. Recently the penal substitutionary view, and particularly its misappropriations, has been critiqued, and a lively debate has taken hold within evangelicalism. This book offers a "panel" discussion of four views of atonement maintained by four evangelical scholars. The proponents and their views are: Gregory A. Boyd: Christus Victor view Joel B. Green: Kaleidescopic view Bruce R. Reichenbach: Healing view Thomas R. Schreiner: Penal Substitutionary view Following an introduction written by the editors, each participant first puts forth the case for their view. Each view is followed by responses from the other three participants, noting points of agreement as well as disagreement. This is a book that will help Christians understand the issues, grasp the differences and proceed toward a clearer articulation of their understanding of the atonement.

Buy The Nature of the Atonement: Four Views by James Beilby, Paul R. Eddy, Gregory A. Boyd, Joel B. Green & Bruce R. Reichenbach from our Christian Books store - isbn: 9780830825707 & 0830825703

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More About James Beilby, Paul R. Eddy, Gregory A. Boyd, Joel B. Green & Bruce R. Reichenbach

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! James K. Beilby (PhD, Marquette University) is professor of systematic and philosophical theology at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Paul Rhodes Eddy (PhD, Marquette University) is professor of biblical and theological studies, also at Bethel. Together they have coedited four successful multi-view volumes, and each has authored or edited a number of other books.

James K. Beilby has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Spectrum Multiview Books

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Authors, A-Z > ( B ) > Boyd, Gregory A.   [19  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Bible Study > General   [2774  similar products]
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Great idea but it gets old  Jul 15, 2009
This is one of the biggies in Christian thinking. The Atonement...the theology and historicity on how God made God and Man one again after the Fall of man into sin.

After reading this book I remembered a line from one of the foremost thinkers on the Atonement I know, the well-known Biblical scholar Dr. Robert Traina: "I'm glad that the Atonement for me personally doesn't depend upon a theory but a man on a cross". Amen to that.

Don't get me wrong, I love theology and its lingo. I think it is of absolutely crucial importance in our day, but I have to admit that this book left me a little confounded. Why did they write this book, anyway?

Yes, if you think that Jesus dying on a cross primarily, or solely, to pay a price for your sins and take your sins on gotta at least wonder what in the world that means. How does your sins get transferred to Jesus? If a price was paid, to whom did Jesus pay it?
Thus, it very important to realize that the Atonement is greater than the Penal Substitutionary theory.

However, is it necessary to limit ourselves to one theory? The authors acknowledge this and Gregory Boyd especially points out that all theories have truth in them...his theory just has more truth or overarching truth.

The question I hate to ask in the end is this: does it matter which theory is the megatheory, the one that "binds them all?"

Actually, I think it makes a huge difference but this book is not the book to answer that question. Therefore only four stars. This is much like a menu when all you want to do is to eat. Read it but go on to deeper and more meaningful books that allow you to get a better view of God...which is the whole idea anyway. A hint is in place, however, on what difference I think it makes what theory you hold to. Your view of the Atonement is definitive for your view of God. We better get that right or we will be very surprised one day...
Helpful Introduction to Theories of the Atonement  Oct 19, 2008
The ecumenical creeds of the Christian church never settled on one theory of Christ's atonement. Therefore, history shows a wide variety of views on how Christ's death on the cross accomplishes human salvation.

The Nature of the Atonement includes contributions from well-known evangelical scholars that encompass the different views of atonement theology. The first three contributors argue that their model of the atonement best explains the bulk of Scriptural testimony and best fits the other views into their own. The last contributor argues that there is no overarching view of the atonement that takes into account all the others.

Greg Boyd presents the Christus Victor view - that the atonement was primarily about God's defeat of the devil.

Tom Schreiner presents the penal substitutionary view - that the atonement was primarily about Jesus absorbing the wrath of God against human sin and thus providing forgiveness and restoration by taking our punishment.

Bruce Reichenbach presents the healing view - that Jesus took the poison and sickness of our sin and brought healing and wholeness through his death.

Joel Green presents the kaleidoscopic view - that no one theory of the atonement is adequate and that each has its place.

For me, the chapter on the healing view was enlightening. I had missed some of the parallels between sin and sickness, and Reichenbach's presentation helped illuminate some of the biblical texts that I had unintentionally screened out.

Boyd's Christus Victor presentation is not nearly as compelling as other versions of this theory I have come across.

Schreiner does well in presenting the penal substitutionary model, although I'm not sure what he means by stating that this model is at the "heart" of the atonement. Just what is the "heart?" And what significance does that carry? Of course, I affirm penal substitution as an integral part of Christ's work. I was not convinced, however, that this is the central motif of the atonement throughout all Scripture.

It is disappointing that Green's kaleidoscopic view leaves room for all theories of the atonement except for penal substitution. Green's view is not quite as inclusive as it first appears. Everything but penal substitution has its place.

The Nature of the Atonement is a helpful introduction to the theories of the atonement. The contributors do an admirable job presenting and defending their views.
Excellent overview of the topic  Oct 3, 2007
I found this to be an excellent comparitive study of different Christian views of Jesus' atonement. The authors are all strong scholars and come from diverse theological backgrounds. I found myself highlighting many sections of the text that helped make sense of Christian beliefs and interpretations on this issue. I highly recommend this book for people wanting to gain a better understanding of the different Christian views of what Jesus' death on the Cross accomplished and its purposes - you will come away enriched in your own understanding and more knowledgable of other Christian traditions' views.
The Nature of the Atonement  Sep 15, 2007
The atonement, broadly speaking, refers to the saving work of Jesus Christ.

It was John Wesley who once said, "Nothing in the Christian system is of greater consequence than the doctrine of the atonement."

If Wesley is correct, then the atonement is a Christian belief that deserves to be discussed.

_The Nature of the Atonement: Four Views_ (IVP Academic, 2006) seeks to give the Christian doctrine of atonement its proper due by fostering dialogue between four scholars, who hold as many interpretations of the atonement.

The four understandings/theories of the atonement under examination are:

1. The Christus Victor model: the atonement is a divine conflict and victory in which Jesus fights against and triumphs over the evil powers of the world.

2. The Penal Substitution model: "the Father, because of his love for human beings, sent his satisfy God's justice, so that Christ took the place of sinners. The punishment and penalty we deserved was laid on Jesus Christ instead of us, so that in the cross both God's holiness and love are manifested." (p. 67)

3. The Healing model: the atonement is primiarly a healing/restoration from sin and its resultant sickness.

4. The Kaleidoscopic model: the atonement is understood in multiple ways and no one theory has priority over the others.

None of the participants in the book disagrees as to whether the different theories are viable explanations of the atonement. Where the difference of opinion lies is in which theory is primary or foundational. The first three models purport to be foundational while the fourth model, the Kaleidoscopic view, claims that there is no foundational model.

In my mind, the foundational or controlling theory of the atonement is the one that can explain why it was necessary for Jesus to become a man and die. Based on the presentations in this book, the last two models (Healing and Kaleidoscopic) are lacking at this juncture. The Christus Victor model is presented well, but I am still left scratching my head as to why Jesus had to die in order to conquer the powers of evil.


The format of the book is enjoyable to read. A theory of the atonement is presented for roughly 20-30 pages followed by brief responses/rebuttals from the participants representing the other three views.

The book isn't the easiest to read. It tends toward academic speak. A strong interest in the topic, however, will allow the lay reader to make it from cover to cover.

I think the most valuable purpose of the book is to remind Christians of the richness of the atonement. It is multi-faceted and Christians need to recognize it as such even if they disagree on which facet should have priority over the others. As one contributor notes, "the model of penal substitutionary atonement is so pervasive in American Christianity that many Christians may wonder whether the saving significance of Jesus' death can be understood in any other way." (p. 169)

Let us not impoverish ourselves by only thinking of the saving work of Jesus Christ from one perspective.

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