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Monday, September 23, 2013

One With Christ: An Evangelical Theology of Salvation

Marcus Peter Johnson (PhD, University of Toronto) is assistant professor of theology at Moody Bible Institute. Along with writing his doctoral dissertation on union with Christ in the theology of John Calvin, he is also the author of several scholarly essays. He and his wife, Stacie, live in Chicago with their son, Peter, and are members of Grace Lutheran Church.

Despite our love for the Bible, emphasis on the cross, and passion for evangelism, many evangelicals ironically neglect that which is central to the gospel.  In our preaching, teaching, and witnessing, we often separate salvation from the Savior.
Looking to the Scriptures and to church history, Marcus Johnson reveals the true riches of our salvation by reintroducing us to the foundation of our redemption - our mysterious union with the living Christ.
The book consists of and introduction and 8 chapters:
1.  The Nature of Union with Christ
2.  Sin and the Incarnation
3.  Justification in Christ
4.  Sanctification in Christ
5.  Adoption and Sonship in Christ
6.  Preservation and Glorification in Christ
7.  The Mystery of the Church in Christ
8.  The Word and Sacraments of Christ

"This book is concerned with repairing an ever-widening fissure in evangelical theology...We are content, more often than not, to refer to the 'atoning work of Christ' or the 'work of Christ on the cross' as the basis for our salvation.  Yet, as important as such expressions are for a robust evangelical soteriology (the study of salvation), we are in dire need of the reminder that Christ's saving work is of no benefit to us unless we are joined to the living Savior whose work it is."  (from the introduction, pg.15)
Drawing from what Johnson calls his "shocking encounter" with the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformer John Calvin, he offers his readers a theologically robust and scholarly look at our union with Christ.  Johnson looks closely at church tradition, but even closer at Scripture to help his readers understand this union upon which our very salvation is dependent.  One With Christ reads somewhat like a textbook and requires a careful and slow reading.  Johnson utilizes strategically placed and in depth foot notes to engage the reader in his understanding of the text.

Johnson is thorough in his explanations.  He doesn't just throw an idea before his reader without the careful exposition of Scripture for clarification on his point.  He quotes often from Calvin himself as Calvin's theology greatly influenced Johnson's understanding of union with Christ, but  presents the thoughts of others as well.  There is much to gain from a careful study of this offering from Johnson. 

You can read an excerpt from the book by going HERE.

*I received a copy of the book from the publisher (Crossway) for the purpose of this review.