Monday, June 8, 2015

Review: Desiring Atonement

Atonement can sound like a boring, droll topic (and it is to many people). However, it's also central to Christian theology and the topic of many vicious debates (some people's ordinations and even salvation statuses have been questioned due to even minor differences in atonement beliefs). For those not familiar, atonement in Christianity refers to becoming reconciled with God. I have previously written on atonement, including problems with "traditional" atonement theoriesthe application of René Girard's mimetic theory to Christian atonement, and the fundamental question of whether God needs to be appeased.

A few authors have written on similar topics, but André Rabe's recent book, Desire Found Me, provides a very thorough exploration of how mimesis impacts not only atonement, but a variety of fundamental Christian theological points. His is an incredibly ambitious project, not just describing a mimetic atonement, but laying a foundation of how mimesis provides a better explanation of Scripture all the way back to Genesis 1.

Some might think this foundation is too much. To be fair, it can be a lot to digest, although he makes fine theological points accessible (with appropriate background) to those unfamiliar with the topics, while also not being overly simplistic for those with more knowledge of some topics (his writing structure makes it is easy to skim where appropriate). However, discussing things such as human nature, justice, and even Satan are critical to understanding and constructing a theory of atonement. Even while being familiar with and having written on many of these topics, Rabe provides helpful strong evidence and detailed explanation supporting more accurate Christ-centered interpretation of Scripture than other more human-centric hermeneutics. He provides a nice balance of his own writing with strong citations showing a solid scholarly approach to Scripture, hermeneutics, and Christian history.

For those interested in mimetic atonement, restorative justice, and love-centered reading of Scripture that is more cohesive than the limited narratives told by so many others, I highly recommend Rabe's text.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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