As Christians we believe that the myriad crises that dominate the world will end. Yet, what we believe the solution to this problem is, is equally scandalous as any human depravity. The Cross, viewed from outside the Christian faith, only adds credence to ostensible belief that sin and violence are the true reality of human existence. Yet, Christian theology insists that the Cross is no mere act of violence but God's very plan to bring atonement and usher in Shalom. The contradiction to everything rational in the human mind is understandably perplexing-even offensive. In God the Peacemaker: How Atonement Brings Shalom Graham A. Cole argues that shalom captures the true essence of the term "atonement" and that therefore standing as the central goal of Christ's death was the atonement or reconciliation of Christ with all things. But this is no trite expression of the human conception of peace as the absence of conflict, or state of mind. Rather shalom, or what is effected through the atonement (i.e. what the biblical definition of peace is), is a concept "in which God's authority and power over his created order are seen to dominate his relations with his world, including both the material and human spheres" (21). The New Testament word for peace eirene adapts this Hebrew meaning into its semantical domain while adding to it the concept of enjoyment. Thus, the biblical sense of peace is the recognition and enjoyment of God's rule over his created order within the relationships of all that is created. In this book you will discover what peace is, and when this is done, we will understand how to achieve it truly, not superficially.
What does God intend for his broken creation? In this book Graham A. Cole seeks to answer this question by setting the atoning work of the cross in the broad framework of God's grand plan to restore the created order, and places the story of Jesus, his cross and empty tomb within it. Since we have become paradoxically the glory and garbage of the universe, our great need is peace with God and not just with God, but also with one another. Atonement brings shalom by defeating the enemies of peace, overcoming both the barriers to reconciliation and to the restoration of creation through the sacrifice of Christ. The "peace dividend" that atonement brings ranges from the forgiveness of sins for the individual to adoption into the family of God.
Graham A. Cole is Anglican Professor of Divinity at Beeson Divinity School, Birmingham, Alabama. Previously he served as professor of biblical and systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and principal of Ridley College, Melbourne. He is the author of (NSBT), and numerous articles in periodicals and books.
"Few if any themes are more central to the Bible than atonement. . . . My hope and prayer is that this volume will become a 'standard' contribution in the field, informing and enriching its readers as to what God achieved by sending his dear Son to the cross on our behalf. Eternity itself will not exhaust our wonder at these truths. This book, I am sure, will establish many in the right direction."
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