Larry Shelton, Cross and Covenant

Larry Shelton, a Theology Professor at George Fox, has written a thorough examination of atonement theories in light of the biblical theme of covenant which leads into an assessment of Wesleyan developments in atonement theology.  This book nearly kicked my butt.  It was like every other chapter was super exciting theology.  The problem was all the other chapters that were tedious scholarly examinations of doctrine and theology.  It was a little tough.  It was all good work and helpful, but hard for me to make it through many pages in one sitting.

I did really appreciate Shelton’s motivation in writing as he saw his students struggle more and more with modernist theories of the atonement.  He felt a conviction to continue to explain the work of Christ’s life, death and resurrection in a way that makes sense and works itself out in practical ways.

Here’s some interesting thoughts from the book:

  • p.xvii, “My students were becoming more disturbed and less impressed by the traditional theologies of Christ’s death as the necessary penalty God required from humanity in order to reconcile them to divine fellowship…The use of legal models to explain God’s nature as justice has become less compelling for the telling of Jesus’ story of redemption to this generation.”
  • p.3, “The postmodern culture is profoundly concerned, however, to address the existential alienation of separation from the foundations of meaning in their lives.”
  • p.22, “Henry Spaulding II is undoubtedly correct in noting that Wesleyan-holiness theology after John Wesley, for example, has been notoriously deficient in reflecting on a Trinitarian ontology other than in ‘purely experiential-expressive ways.”
  • p.25, “We learn who we are by the response of others toward us.  When that Other is God, and when that appraisal is ‘very good,’ humanity is blessed with a secure self-image patterned after God’s own character.”
  • p.49, “Sin to the Israelite was unhealthy, for it rendered one incapable of living with others or with Yahweh.”
  • p.155, “The theological systems and ecclesiastical institutions devised in the past should not define the Christian tradition.  Rather, it should be defined by its radical passion that sacrificially steps out into the mainstream of the world and with all its might uses every technique at its disposal to fulfill the Great Commission in every age.”
  • p.193, “Had Wesley also developed the recapitulation and identification emphases of Irenaeus, he might have avoided the theological dilemma he faced in failing to resolve the imputation/impartation issue.”

pages read= 225 ~ year to date= 5994 ~ 2009 goal=9,000 ~ (67%)

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