Friday, June 11, 2010

Book Review: Pierced for Our Transgressions by Jeffery, Ovey and Sachs

The tagline for this book reads: Rediscovering the glory of penal substitution. Now, I have this theory that the Bible must be God's word as it is so divorced from what we would expect to be true from human reasoning. To me penal substitution makes total sense because it is so utterly unexpected and paradoxical - how could penal substitution ever be glorious? Only with God.

As with the ebb-and-flow of trends in human sensibility so now our generation is facing challenges to the concept of penal substitution. I have heard people say "I just like to think of Christ on the cross as showing me how to die to sin in my life, but I don't think it saves us." This attitude has culminated in the description of the doctrine as 'cosmic child abuse' and the misplaced anthropomorphic misunderstandings which that highly emotive phrase brings.

'Pierced...' attempts to redress the balance and to open up to discussion the place of the doctrine of penal substitution in Chrisitanity. At 526 pages it is long but very particular care has been taken to address the doctrine and issues with extraordinary care and an even-handedness (although the authors views are made explicit from the title). The book is split into two parts: the first is examing the doctrine and the second is answering the critics. Both are exhaustive and considered. Critics will not like the second section as it will be misconstrued as aggressive, I personally found it educational and it places the reader at the heart of the issues involved. The book is dripping in Scripture - nothing is quoted out of context. And as with all good Christian books there are numerous sections devoted to practical Christian living with its lessons.

I love this book and it seems appropriate to review this month. I just cannot see another route to salvation than penal substitution and no matter how unsavoury it may seem to us. We should never lose sight of the God who would ransom Israel to Gentiles and yet still remain true to His Covenant. After all, He ultimately ransomed His Son - a far greater price - for our much greater gain. I won't rate this book but will apologise for the review - in short, please read it for yourselves. I believe we have The Cross of Christ-equivalent for our times.

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