The Day the Revolution Began: Atonement Theology Needs Old Scratch

I just finished N.T. Wright's new book about the atonement, The Day the Revolution Began.

A couple of weeks ago Wright was at SMU speaking on the subject of his book, and readers of the blog who attended the talk alerted me to the fact that Wright gave Reviving Old Scratch and myself a nice shout out, along with Scott Peck (People of the Lie), and Walter Wink (his work on the Powers), as writers helping modern Christians recover a robust theology of the Devil and "spiritual warfare."

The video of Wright's talk is below and you can pick up these remarks at the 21:02 mark.

If you read The Day the Revolution Began you see why Wright made this comment.

Jesus' victory over evil--Sin, Death and the Devil--plays a huge, central part in Wright's treatment of what Jesus accomplished on the cross. By focusing on the Passover themes of Jesus' death Wright's atonement theology emphasizes victory and emancipation. Jesus' death is the New Exodus liberating us from dark, enslaving forces.

To be clear, there is so much more in The Day the Revolution Began than these Christus Victor themes. One of the noteworthy things Wright does in the book is build a bridge, by focusing upon the story of Israel, between Christus Victor and penal substitutionary views of the atonement. These two views of the atonement are often pitted against each other, but Wright shows how they supplement and complement each other.

But the point I want to make here is that, according to N.T. Wright, you just can't make sense of the Gospels, the cross and the kingdom of God if you don't have a theology of the devil. And it makes we wonder if the reason we struggle so much with the cross and atonement theology is because we've drifted so far from the biblical imagination.

That insight was a huge part of why I wrote Reviving Old Scratch.

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