Graham Cole's book on the restoration of creation to a right relationship with God is one worth having on your shelf.
It is yet another fine product in the New Studies in Biblical Theology series, edited by DA Carson.
There are now 25 titles in the New Studies in Biblical Theology (NSBT) series and the 25th is a most welcome addition. Graham Cole is Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS) at Deerfield, Illinois and he has put pen to paper to offer us a study on the atonement; one which he is well qualified to handle.
The easiest way to get a handle on where Cole goes in this book is through the chapter headings:
- The righteous God of holy love
- The glory and garbage of the universe
- The great need: peace with God, with one another and for the cosmos
- Foundations and foreshadowings
- The faithful Son
- The death and vindication of the faithful Son
- The 'peace dividend'
- Life between the cross and the coming
- The grand purpose: glory
Most of these are self-explanatory, but each chapter is itself broken into several sub-headings of a few pages' duration at most. This makes the book ideal for a mid-week Bible study group, as long as it's a serious one. Mind you, it would take you all year to get through the book as a group if you were to pursue it this way, but it would be beneficial.
Cole's writing is at a non-technical level with a clear outline and very little Hebrew, Latin or Greek. But it's the subject matter which makes this book worth owning.
I have grown to trust Don Carson's work and knowing Graham Cole works along side him at TEDS (and under him in this series) inspires confidence. The book is theologically sound and I can't think of much he's left out of it, given that "The Atonement" could be an enormous subject.
For me, the biggest nugget in the book was found in chapters five & six, which deal with the concept of the faithful Son. To understand the atonement, you cannot ignore:
- The failure of Adam as God's son
- The failure of Israel as God's son
- The success of Jesus' mission as God's Son
If you are looking to clear the fog on this topic, Cole has written the book for you.
A word also on the value of Cole's Appendix. It treats some important topics with sensitivity and clarity.
- Debate about the centrality & morality of penal substitution
- Is there a guarantee of physical healing in the atonement?
- Did Jesus descend into hell while he was in the grave?
- Does God really require such a violent price be paid?
The appendix is only brief, but valuable.
All in all, I am grateful to Professor Cole for publishing this work. At 300 pages it is a medium length work which can be read in bite size chunks if necessary. It is reasonably priced too, making it even more attractive.
1. Cole, G.A, God the Peacemaker - How atonement brings shalom, 2009, co-published by Apollos, UK, and InterVarsity Press, USA.