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Proclaiming the Scandal of the Cross: Contemporary Images of the Atonement [Paperback]

By Mark D. Baker (Editor)
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Item description for Proclaiming the Scandal of the Cross: Contemporary Images of the Atonement by Mark D. Baker...

Introduces the need for contextualized atonement theology and offers creative examples of how the Cross can be proclaimed in culturally relevant and transformative ways.

Publishers Description
Because many modern Christians can offer a reasonable explanation of the meaning of Jesus' death on the cross, they find it hard to understand the confusion displayed by the disciples after the events in the last pages of the Gospels. But if Paul were alive today, he would find it inexplicable that we modern believers are not scandalized by the cross.
"Proclaiming the Scandal of the Cross "introduces pastors, church leaders, students, and lay readers to the need for contextualized atonement theology, offering creative examples of how the cross can be proclaimed today in culturally relevant and transformative ways. It makes helpful suggestions on how this vision for a culturally relevant message might be developed. The impressive list of contributors includes writings from C. S. Lewis, Rowan Williams, Frederica Mathewes-Green, Brian McLaren, and many more who are actively working out just how to make this life-transforming proclamation.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Baker Academic
Pages   204
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.52" Width: 5.54" Height: 0.63"
Weight:   0.58 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Dec 1, 2006
Publisher   Baker Publishing Group
ISBN  080102742X  
ISBN13  9780801027420  

Availability  126 units.
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More About Mark D. Baker

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Mark D. Baker (PhD, Duke University) is associate professor of mission and theology at Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary in Fresno, California. In addition to coauthoring "Recovering the Scandal of the Cross, "he has written three other books.

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1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Clergy > Preaching
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Bible > General
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Christology
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > General
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Soteriology

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Reviews - What do customers think about Proclaiming the Scandal of the Cross: Contemporary Images of the Atonement?

a helpful resource despite serious omissions  Feb 10, 2010
Proclaiming the Scandal of the Cross brings the reader word and prose "images" of the atonement of Jesus Christ. The book features eighteen authors all told with a tailpiece, a headpiece and one in the center by editor Mark D. Baker. Contributors include big names like C.S. Lewis and Rowan Williams though sadly, only a scant four women. Brief bios in the front of the book show they're mostly Western Protestants, mostly pastors from English-speaking countries. Sadly surprising is the apparent total omission of anyone from a Lutheran or a Roman Catholic perspective, although I especially appreciate the inclusion of Frederica Mathewes Green, who writes from the Antiochian Orthodox tradition as she clearly and concisely defines the Christus Victor atonement model that remains most prominent in the Eastern Churches.

I found this book to be a helpful resource that I read very quickly. Despite my background, I've been known to get seriously bogged down in densely-written theological tomes - not to say those weren't written well - but this wasn't one of those. I especially like the real-life stories that contextualize each concept and the way each author nuances their atonement concepts a little differently. Each discrete chapter opens with introductory explanations and concludes with a descriptive wrapup of the material just presented.

Proclaiming the Scandal of the Cross goes beyond the generally popularly acknowledged models of the atonement of Jesus Christ that typically nclude conflict/victory, legal penal satisfaction, and moral influence/example. In his intro, Mark Baker observes [page 31] "...for centuries, Christians preached and taught the message of Christianity without the gospel leading them to the inescapable conclusion of penal satisfaction." And, "It is noteworthy that Orthodox Christians still read their Bibles without finding this theory."

I recommend this book as a teaching and discussion resource; it could be helpful as part of the preaching enterprise, as well. But not including a single currently practicing Roman Catholic troubles me and I particularly consider the omission of a contributor writing from a Lutheran perspective both glaring and puzzling, especially given how central the theology of Martin Luther has been for the Church in the West and given that most of his theology was very specifically "Theology of the Cross." In fact, for Luther, the cross of Calvary formed a Weltanschauung, an all-encompassing worldview.

In the Heidelberg Disputation [1518] Luther tells us in article 19: "That person does not deserve to be called a theologian who looks upon the invisible things of God as though they were clearly perceptible in those things that have actually happened;" and in article 20: "He deserves to be called a theologian, however, who comprehends the visible and manifest things of God seen through suffering and the cross."
Diversity of Atonement Images  Jun 22, 2009
In recent days, the cross has become the stale old story, repeating its scandalous nature and brutality, which seems not applicable to the contemporary society. Hence, much of the preaching and teaching just slightly talks or altogether avoid the subject. Mark Baker in Proclaiming the Scandal of the Cross: Contemporary Image of the Atonement use the heart of the Christianity, the cross and the resurrection, to demonstrate attractive means and methods of fresh presentation.

The main thesis of the book is using "diversity of atonement images" to convey the substitutionary atonement as alternative to the penal satisfactory theory of the atonement for different contexts. He supports his thesis by showing the various ways in which New Testament has used them. This book is often criticized for its rejection of the substitutionary atonement model, especially penal substitution. However, I have not found such evidence.

The New Testament authors used metaphorical language to illustrate the scandalous atonement imagery borrowed by the Greco-Roman public life of the day. Baker points out they used imageries like the court of law for justification, commercial dealings for redemption, personal relationships for communal or individual reconciliation, worship motif for sacrifice and battleground for victory of the evil (p. 15). These imageries are very useful in the pastoral context to understand the lostness and the nature of depravity and the liberation from it. Moreover, these imageries work in the salvific significance of the death and resurrection of Christ in the plurality of contexts and wider cultural considerations (p. 16). Secondly Baker points out that converting atonement concepts to conceptual understandable metaphorical imageries will ease the grasp of the ongoing nature of the salvific work of God, motivates the humans to participate in the divine drama by responding to the love of God by grace from faith, understand the role of theology in ethics and missiological application of the atonement to all humanity, regardless of the segregations (pp. 16-18). Lastly he points out the decoding of the New Testament atonement imagery in first century setting and conforming back to the understandable of the present day contexts. However, He warns us by saying, "[m]oreover, we would not eschew early models or reality to which they point, but would carry our constructive work fully in conversation with and under the guidance of the Scriptures of Israel and the church, and of the apostolic testimony" (p.18).

Therefore Baker first deals with the existing historical and theological models of the atonement understandings. The conflict-victory motif of the defeating the power of death, sin and evil power of devil to liberate the humanity, the penal satisfactory theory of God pay a debit and moral influence theory of provoking humanity by example and reconciliation (pp. 18-25). Then he proposed the alternative models which in line with substitutionary atonement and also dealing with guilt and justice, shame and honor (pp.26-35). From the rest of the book Baker, takes the reader on the examples of convening atonement in various cultural contexts used by several authors:

C.S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe gives illusion of the Christ's death and resurrection in Aslan's giving of his life to Edmund substitution and conquered the death and evil by the acting according to the statutes of "deeper magic" (pp.36-41). The Fredrica Mattwes-Green's "Rising Victorious" deals with the Orthodox view of victory motif in Christ's death satisfying God's requirement for justice and the resurrection as a triumph over death (pp.42-45). Chris Friesen's friendly discussion at coffee shop, a short story titled "Atonement in the coffee shop" deals with the atonement as absorbing stains of sin vs. covering the face of God and turning the other cheek as radical expression of love (pp. 46-61). Further, Chris uses the tattoo on the Aviva's hand as the permanent sign of the scandalous cross as reminder of the conversion experience (p. 58). Debbie Blue's "Different Story: Mark 15:21-39," a sermon which talks about the cross in relation to the absorbing, transformation, frogiveness to live in new way of life (62-72). She uses contemporary example to illustrate her point (p. 70). Dan Whitmarsh's "Atonement as Drama in a Sunday school Class" illustrate using Mal Gibson's Passion of the Christ and two students for God's way of restoring relationships and breaking the vicious circle of the sin (pp. 73-76). Rowan Williams' sermon on "The Forgiveness of Sins" uses forgiving and forgiven motifs to illustrate the theological implication of the atonement and he uniquely used the opportunity to challenge the audience (pp. 77-83). Mark D. Baker used a parable in his "Atonement: A Beach Parable for Youth" brings to a setting of a private beach open to public where youth clique got a chance of forgiveness and to reformed start again their life, which illustrate the God's love, Jesus coming and the response of the God to reconciliation the excluded (84-92). Baker further provides useful questions to reflect on the parable with the events of Jesus story (p. 93). Richard Hays Sermon titled "Made New by One Man's Obedience: Romans 5:12-19" uses seminary setting of Paul's theological reflection paper and elaborates the lostness of the humanity encounters God's grace and transformational salvation which made the entire humanity a new creation and new people in a family (96-102). His development of the Pauline arguments is so vivid and powerful in its reflection of Jesus' obedience, which brings the God's grace into being (pp. 100-101). Steve Taylor brings contemporary images from New Zealand in his sermon title here "Participation and as Atomized World: A Reflection on Christ as Respective New Adam" where he deals with representative motifs of Jesus as New Adam to the humanity for giving life from death (pp. 103-109). Hays and Taylor uses biblical and theological truths intertwined with contemporary illustrations to move the audience for a heartfelt response. Brian McLaren sermon on "The Cross as Prophetic Action" use Hosea as a prototype for Jesus Christ and then look forward to salvific importance of the cross and resurrection as a prophetic action flesh out the Hosea story (pp. -121). He uses biblical language and images to illustrate the saving work of the scandalous cross to the contemporary society (118-121). Doug Frank's chapel talk, "Naked but Unashamed," brings the shame factor into the atonement and mirror himself back to the cross (pp. 122-134); his identification with the cross is very moving: "For me, the cross become a kind of mirror. In its reflection I see my self as I am when I am free to inhabit my full humanity: wounded, weakened, but unashamed and loving towards my enemies as I am toward myself" (p. 133). Grace May, in "The family Table" uses shame motif as the Asian cultural norms like saving face, avoiding shame, which brings fear of rejection and exclusion (which could not be removed form punishments/ punitive compensations) whereby Christ take it upon himself and proclaimed healing from the atoning love (pp. 134-144). Mike McNichols' "Jesus, the Ultimate Outsider" gives powerful sermon captivate the audience with Judas and personal shame with a solid application of the healing and salvation from shame (145-152). Ryan Schellenberg's "A Father's Advocate" deals with story of a Pastor risking his honor to protect his son's honor, which is precisely the inversion of the Anselm's model--"the cross isn't about satisfying God's honor; the cross reveals God's willingness to risk his honor in order to guard ours" (pp.153-159). Luci Shew's Poem titled "Present" is a beautiful illustration of Christ's blood spilling to give life for the humanity is compared with the blood rushing into a syringe in a blood test (pp.160-162). Shew bind these concepts with the nature of God and gives the complete picture of atonement (p.161). Gwinyai Muzorewa's "Salation through the Sacrifice of God's Firstborn Son" presents the duties, privileges and sole obligations of the first born Child in Zimbabwe context with the God's first born Jesus Christ and blood sacrifice in shona culture as a duty of mukoma (first born) to his Christian family (pp.163-171). This presentation of the first-born is very helpful in understanding of the unique position of the role and sole obligations, which only could performed in such role (pp. 165-166). Curtis Chang "He Shared Our Aches" motif of humanity's `suffering from the alienation' and appeal the audience to reunite with God's purposes and join God's mission (pp.172-183). However, his presentation is hard to follow because of the numerous slides. Steve Todd's presentation of "Absorbing the Three D's of death" uses three themes which are distance, distortion and destruction absorbed by Jesus Christ like the John Coffey (J.C.) in the movie The Green Mile (pp.184-186). At the end of his presentation Todd adds a evangelistic appeal (p.186). The Last article by Mark Baker on "Go and Do Likewise" challengers the reader to participate in bring atonement imagery and stories in contemporary setting--the cross and resurrection, which is the lit diamond bring multifaceted colors to the single light of atonement (187-189).

Mark Baker's attempt of using different genre like, novels, short stories, sermons, parables, Sunday school class lessons to illustrate both the cross and the resurrection in presenting models of atonement is helpful in formulating readers own imagination for use of similar methods. His presentation is driven in the substitutionary atonement, but uses representative and honor and shame motifs to illustrate to different cultural settings. Baker uses illustrations from different countries where our own cultural bind-spots are reveal and tend to open the reader for new possibilities. This treatment of presenting atonement is intriguing and refreshing, therefore it helps the reader venture into new ways of retelling the essence of Christianity.

In my 18 years of ministry, I realized that I have not presented the theme of atonement frequently. If I were to put a number for purposeful presentations, it would not exceed 25 times or less--in those presentations, most of the times I illustrated cross (and not the resurrection) in penal substitution or moral influence models. This book has challenged my notions and open fresh ways to apply atonement in Sri Lankan context. It helped me to see using both the death and resurrection in presentation of the atonement.

Mark Baker's presentation is very important to get an idea for applying atonement across the board, in various different ministerial settings. The books gives, nuggets of illustrations that could be used in one's personal ministry and gives ample example applications like questions, practical actions (like nailing to a cross), or extending evangelistic appeal to the contemporary audience. This book paved the way of using alternative models like shame and honor, which are often neglected by the preachers and teachers. I must say this book is innovative in methods, relevant in application, fresh in presentation and thought provoking in subject matter.

I highly recommend this book to seminary students, Christian leaders, and ministers of the gospel.

*Ravin Caldera is a Lecturer of Colombo Theological Seminary, Sri Lanka
Broadens our perspective on atonement  Mar 5, 2008
As a person relatively new to Christianity, I have found the concept of atonement to be a stumbling block, particularly penal substitution. I did a substantial amount of reading on the subject, but could never reconcile myself to the notion that God required Jesus' death in order to "compensate" for the sins of humanity. This book opens up the possibility that there are numerous other ways to express the meaning of Christ's death on the cross, including ways that do not separate his life from his death. It contains stories, sermons and chapel talks from a variety of cultural settings that show ways in which atonement may be related to the listener's real-life understanding. Baker adds brief commentary to each. While most readers will probably not relate to each of the contributions, the overall effect for me was relief-inducing. Baker does not take the position that penal substitutionary theory is wrong, but does convincingly show that it is a metaphor grounded in a particular place and time (11th Century Europe) and that it is not the only way in which the topic can be approached. I found this illuminating and liberating.
Finally - language that helps me describe the cross!  Dec 10, 2007
With all the talk these days about the ATONEMENT and a fair amount of
harsh words from those that feel they are protecting "the" historical,
orthodox understanding of the atonement, this book is a refreshing
collection of pastors and theologians in the trenches who are actually
articulating the atonement story in brilliant and creative ways! Dr.
Richard Hays's chapter on Romans 5:12-19 (Made New by One Man's
Obedience) and Pastor Curtis Chang's sermon in chapter 18 (He Shares
Our Aches) alone are totally worth the value of the book! This book
takes a leap off the ivory tower and into the real world! I have used
several examples from this text as I meet with unchurched couples
interested in the meaning of the cross and the bottom line of

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