God the Peacemaker

by Graham Cole, IVP 2009


This is the latest monograph in the New Studies in Biblical Theology series. It’s by Graham Cole, currently at Trinity in Chicago, formerly principal of Ridley, and formerly at Moore. He was in the country last year for the Barney’s weekend away, and I was generally impressed him with.

From the outset, this book sets out to broadly cover the Atonement. And that it does. Cole brings out both the Biblical and systematic contexts of atonement – the nature of God, the nature of man, and the OT types pointing to atonement. There is broad treatment of the various aspects of atonement, from the person and work of Christ, to the different effects the atonement has, such as justification and redemption. There is also a treatment of the ways the atonement affects our lives. Cole reserves comment about various criticisms and questions about the doctrine of penal substitution to an appendix, preferring to keep the main text to expounding the Biblical witness.

There are pro’s and con’s to his approach. The breadth of the work means that there is something on everything. It means that this work should function well as a useful introduction or springboard for anyone wanting an entry point into discussion of this important doctrine. However, the space limitations that the breadth imposes means that there is a sacrifice in depth. I think that Cole does go deep enough where he needs to, but I’m also aware of how much more can be said. The wide number of sources and plentiful footnotes should satisfy those wanting to research more. I think also that if one were to go deeper, one would need way more time and dedication than I suspect what the intended readership might have. As it is, it reads quite well. One thing I thought could have been done better was integrating the chapter on glory a little more with the rest of the book. I may need to have a second look at the chapter to verify that, as that was my first impression.

I thoroughly recommend this book if you want to start getting your head into atonement. The reading level seems to be:
- might not know all the lingo, especially the transliterations, if you are a fairly educated lay leader of some sort or a uni student with a few MYC’s under your belt
- you’ll get it if you are a first year theology student
- easy if higher than that

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