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The Nonviolent Atonement [Paperback]

By J. Denny Weaver (Author)
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Item Number 143226  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   246
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.34" Width: 6" Height: 0.75"
Weight:   0.81 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Aug 28, 2001
Publisher   Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
ISBN  0802849083  
EAN  9780802849083  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
This challenging work explores the history of the Christian doctrine of atonement, exposing the intrinsically violent dimensions of the traditional, Anselmian satisfaction atonement view and offering instead a new, thoroughly nonviolent paradigm for understanding atonement based on narrative Christus Victor. The book develops a two-part argument. J. Denny Weaver first develops narrative Christus Victor as a comprehensive, nonviolent atonement motif. The other side of the discussion exposes the assumptions and the accommodation of violence in traditional atonement motifs. The first chapter lays out narrative Christus Victor as nonviolent atonement that reflects the entire biblical story, though paying particular attention to Revelation, the Gospels, and Paul. This biblical discussion also touches on the Old Testament story, Hebrew sacrifices, and the book of Hebrews. Following chapters place narrative Christus Victor in conversation with defenders of Anselm and with representatives of black, feminist, and womanist theologies. These discussions expose an accumulation of dimensions of violence in the several forms of satisfaction atonement. A final substantive chapter analyzes the inadequacy of all attempts to defend Anselm against the recent challenges raised by feminist and womanist perspectives. This analysis lays bare the violent dimensions of satisfaction atonement, which can be camouflaged but not removed. In light of this discussion, Weaver argues that the view of satisfaction atonement must be abandoned and replaced with narrative Christus Victor as the only thoroughly biblical and thoroughly nonviolent alternative.

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More About J. Denny Weaver

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! J. Denny Weaver is professor of religion and Harry and Jean Yoder Scholar in Bible and Religion at Bluffton College. He is the author of four previous books. Gerald Biesecker-Mast is associate professor of communication at Bluffton College. This is the second volume he has co-edited.

J. Denny Weaver currently resides in the state of Ohio. J. Denny Weaver was born in 1941.

J. Denny Weaver has published or released items in the following series...
  1. C. Henry Smith

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Product Categories
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Very well written and get scholarship.  May 15, 2007
Very well written book. The ideas and arguments are well constructed. Anyone that is willing to write from a white male perspective and is willing to have conversation with Feminist, Black, Asian, and Womanist Theologies has my respect. I would only challenge Weaver on why he had Womanist theology in the Feminist section as opposed to the Black Theology section.
Beyond Penal Substitution  Jan 5, 2007
For those who've wondered about the type of god whose wrath can only be satisfied through the punishment of his own son, J. Denny Weaver takes us both back (to the Bible and the church fathers) and forward (beyond the dominant theory of the atonement). And he gives us a biblically solid look at the Cross as the revelation of God's love and the manifestation of God's victory. In short, he says, "The Cross was not about God punishing his own son, but about the victory of God in Christ through forgiveness."

Worth having.

Brad Jersak
Interesting in its scope, but not very thorough  Aug 21, 2005
Weaver's work is certainly effective at focusing somewhat unique perspectives towards challenging the currently in vogue anselmian satisfaction theories of atonement. He certainly hits his mark of highlighting the degree to which satisfaction theories are tied to a particular cultural perspective and the particular time and position of the church in which they were formulated.

Unfortunately, a lot of his argumentation is not well established and seems speculative at times. In many respects his arguments agree with common sense thinking, but it would be nice to see more effort at correlating his assertions with the historical record to demonstrate the connections between the cultural shift and the theological shift which is so central to his thesis.

The other unfortunate aspect of this work is the limited interaction with scripture and real interaction with the texts which are mustered in support of satisfaction atonement. Appropriation of these texts to support traditional anselmian imagery may very well be more eisegetical than exegetical, but Weaver's analysis of these texts is somewhat shallow and not incredibly convincing. The base of scripture appropriated to support satisfaction atonement is undoubtedly one of the strengths of the view; any serious critique of the view must do a better job of addressing these texts head on. Weaver seems content to pick just a few passages, demonstrating that other interpetations are at least plausible, and rest there.

Certainly this book may be more engaging to a select audience. His attempt to bring pacifist, black, and feminist theologies to bear on the atonement question may be more interesting if one is already inclined towards or particularly interested in one of these perspectives. Obviously his concern is also to emphasize the degree to which satisfaction atonement formulations allow for the minimization of oppressed groups, but he doesn't seem to focus this perspective very well. Perhaps the thrust of his work here is as much to present his version of narrative christus victor for consideration by these groups as it is specifically focusing on these perspectives for the purpose of highlighting the limited cultural perspective of traditional atonement formulations and the degree to which they may minimize marginalized groups.

One critique deserves some additional emphasis. While I appreciate the value of representing the perspective of marginalized and oppressed groups, I have a hard time taking seriously the idea that modern western "feminist theologians" could claim a rightful position of representing the voice of an oppressed group. In todays culture, feminism represents the position of the oppressor every bit as much as the position of the oppressed. Perhaps weaver could expand this work to include a paragraph or two examining whether satisfaction atonement theories "allow for the accomodation of" (weaver's phraseology) the systemic violence promoted by feminists against men and fathers in the family court system. One of the feminist "theologians" he examines extensively as a critic of substitutionary atonement (Reuther) has elsewhere published the following "prayer" written specifically with a view towards legitimizing God's approbation of abortion:

"God of our mothers and fathers, source of all life and new life, we are saddened by the conflicts we often experience; conflicts between life and life, between the affirmation of potential new life and the ongoing life that we have committed to nurture and strengthen, our own life and the lives of those we uphold and sustain... We are more than sad, we are also angry that we are faced with such choices, for these are choices in which there is no wholly good way; these are choices against a potential life or against existing life."

Weaver specifically cites feminist objections to the substitionary atonement to highlight that the demonstration of submission to unwarranted violence could be seen as encouraging the abused to endure abuse, or as sanctioning the abuser in his assumed right to inflict suffering on those who "should be submissive" towards such acts. When the feminists very argument is summarized by weaver as "unjust or innocent suffering can never be redemptive or salvific" it is perhaps the height of hypocrisy for the feminist theologians to raise these objections on one hand while affirming the need to sacrifice "life for life" on the other hand- offering up prayers to God for comfort in their "difficult decision" to conflicts between "life and life" to which they staunchly affirm the resolution of offering up the life of an innocent to "save" their own as a legitmate moral option. (Never mind even that the "conflict between life and life" is dealing with weighing the total life of the unborn on one side against the "life" defined as "my convience" or "my career goals" or "my economic comfort" on the other side more often than it deals with actual physical life or death situations). And yet there is no objection from the feminists to the "redemptive" oppression of the innocent here; in this case they are the firmest advocates of offering up the life the innocent to "save" their own. Oh, it may be a "difficult decision" that makes them "sad" and "angry"- but there is absolutely no budging that their "right" to make this decision dare not be questioned.

For this irony to go unaddressed in a work specifically dedicated to the purpose of highlighting the voice of the oppressed and marginalized is a tremendous blind spot. How marginalized is the voice of the unborn? It seems to me weaver is more concerned about hunting up support for his view of the atonement wherever he finds a sympathetic group than he is about discerning who is in a legitimate position to offer a critique from the perspective of the oppressed or marginalized. If we had published works of unborn theologians (as opposed to feminist or black theologians) critiqueing substitutionary atonement for its contribution to their plight than I'm sure Denny would be quick to summon their critiques as a marginalized and oppressed group towards support of his thesis that the idea that sacrificing one innocent party to save, redeem, (or preserve the 'quality of life'?) of another party is incompatible with the narrative of Jesus. Yet this group is so marginalized that they have no theologians amongst themselves to critique the degree to which substitutionary atonement has accomodated the violence against them. Weaver, apparently oblivious or willfully ignorant of this, goes on to devote page after page to offering up the belly-aching of the hypocritical feminists who are in this case the firmest advocates of marginalizing and dehumanizing the victims of their reproductive decisions.

In summary: Weavers work undoubtedly throws out some fine food for thought from a unique perspective, and I would recommend it on that basis alone. But it has some serious flaws and is also pretty hit or miss; the parts that were good left me wanting more and feeling like weaver just hadn't gone deep enough.
How does Jesus save?  May 14, 2004
According to Weaver, Jesus saves by living under the evil systems and structures of power, exposing their true nature in his death, and overcoming them in resurrection. In this way, God is not demanding or perpetrating violence and is on the side of the oppressed. This atonement theory stands in distinction from Anselm's articulation of the atonement in which Jesus dies as a punishment for all sin or a payment to God. It is also in opposition to Abelard's understanding that Jesus shows us God's love and the best way to live. To make his case, Weaver relies heavily on theology from groups who speak from the margins of society. It is clear that the goal is to articulate an understanding of God's action in the life of Christ that stands opposed to violence. Read this book if you have ever had the feeling that in Christ God did more than give you an example of how to live or if you have suspected that God didn't have to see blood to feel better about you.
atonement theology for the oppressed  Dec 7, 2001
Weaver's book does a great job of addressing the question of, who does our theology hurt? The introduction to this book was enlightening and especially pertinent to setting up this question. The focus on an atonement theology that contributes to the "machine" of the world (violence, racism, patriarchy, etc.)is one that he correctly takes dead aim at. While we realize this oppression in religion, culture, and education, our theology is often lacking in this same awareness. Comparing where mennonite theology should be in relation to women's and black theology is a project that is vital. A good book that really challenges the theological conventions that we take for granted

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