September 9, 2014

Does the Cross Promote Violence?

I ran out of reading material on a recent holiday to the Highlands and I found this book in the home of my host. I’ve heard a lot about this Donald fella and so I thought I would give this little bad boy a bit of a whirl.

Understanding the Atonement is the sub heading of his book and is clearly not designed for the faint-hearted. This is a book of real depth—liberally doused in Greek and with plenty of quotes from the Early Church Fathers (I have no clue if his usage is correct in every place). To my mind, the Don certainly knows his stuff! The is book is broken into 11 parts and numbers 255 Christ-soaked pages. He does not leave a stone unturned when it comes to understanding the crucifixion. This book is just so eminently quotable that it sent my twitter feed into overdrive and, quite simply, my poxy review could do it little justice at all.

One of the great marks of this book is the number of hardcore questions the old Donmeister consistently tackles. Take this one as an example: “By choosing to save the world through the cruelty of the cross, is he (God) not glorifying violence?” (p.98) If this is true, argues Macleod, then it would only be against himself because, “It is he, in the person of his Son, who hangs there. If the cross encouraged anything, it is not violence against work and children, but deicide: an assault on deity itself.” (p.98) Hardcore! Macleod doesn’t want us to shy away from the offense of the cross. It should be scandalous to modern ears because it was scandalous. We have to work hard in our ministries to explain the atonement and we do well to get to grips with the language of the cross.

Midway thought the book, Macleod explains some of the key concepts long associated with the crucifixion: expiation, propitiation, reconciliation, redemption, and victory (p.109ff). Here is where we find the meat and potatoes of the book. Full of depth and theological profundities, this is no mere textbook. This is a book that makes your heart sing in praise of Jesus as we look at the cross from every possible angle.

Quite simple: brilliant. Buy it. Now.

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