Jesus' death and resurrection are undeniably central to the Christian faith. But how, precisely, is their significance to be understood?
Concerned to reinvigorate the church's teaching on the cross, the resurrection, and salvation — the atonement — Peter Schmiechen here invites readers to rediscover the wealth of the Christian tradition. In Saving Power he makes ample use of primary sources to unpack ten distinct theories of atonement, welcoming aspects of each rather than championing only one. Along the way, he demonstrates that while most Christians assume the basic theme of atonement to be sin and forgiveness, other powerful themes — liberation from oppressive powers, reconciliation in the face of division, and the hope of resurrection in the face of death, for instance — also deserve to be studied and preached.
Affirming orthodox teaching while offering a positive take on marginal views, Saving Power
is a crucial resource for anyone who seeks a fuller understanding of Christ's work.
AWARDS and RECOGNITIONS
Academy of Parish Clergy, Top Ten Books of the Year (2006)
"Offers a study of the atonement that is remarkable for its breadth and depth as well as the insightfulness and generosity of it evaluative comments."
"In Saving Power Peter Schmiechen exhibits his great learning, his theological sensitivity, and his passion for the church as he offers a wide and deep vision of God's love for the world — an urgent vision for the church, seduced as it is into triviality. Schmiechen's sturdy scholarship is an important resource for the church seeking to find its way back to the saving truth that is larger than all our pet projects."
Sally A. Brown
"In a time when reports of violent death associated with religious zeal confront us on the front page of the paper almost daily, Christian theologians and preachers face no task more difficult than interpreting the saving significance of Jesus' own violent death. Peter Schmiechen goes straight to the heart of this challenge with theological clarity, critical rigor, historical depth, and ecclesial concern. He expands our interpretive range and vision, engaging along the way concerns raised about traditional atonement theories by feminist, womanist, and postcolonialist theologians. He also breaks fresh ground in examining the relationship between atonement theories and ecclesial life. The result is a book that no teacher of theology — and certainly no preaching pastor — should be without."
S. Mark Heim
"Peter Schmiechen's work is an incisive and pastorally minded treatment of the atonement that replaces dry debates over abstract theories with a vivid statement of the many ways Christ's life and death effectively meet our human need. Even more notably, Schmiechen draws out the way that different concrete structures of the church are shaped by giving explicit or implicit priority to certain dimensions of this saving power."
"Convinced that many of the church's problems may be traced to a lack of clarity in atonement theology, Peter Schmiechen presents a comprehensive range of atonement theologies with integrity, theological acumen, and, at times, surprising analyses. Refusing to reduce the meaning of Christ's work to one model or theory, Schmiechen boldly presents no less than ten theories, describing both their strengths and their weaknesses. Those who wish to immerse themselves in the broad spectrum of Christian reflection on the saving power of God in Jesus Christ will be impressed with the lucidity, depth, and congeniality with which he approaches each of the theories he discusses. Even where he feels the need to express his strong reservations, Schmiechen treads carefully, respectfully, and yet frankly."