Tuesday, March 08, 2011

My Book is Published

The book that a friend and I have been working on part time for the last six years (!) is finally published.

Moral Transformation: The Original Christian Paradigm of Salvation

During the Reformation, the Reformers deliberately altered Christian teaching in an attempt to bring it more in line with what they believed the bible taught. After the Reformation a certain set of beliefs became fairly common across much of Protestant thinking. This theology taught that humans were hell-bound due to sin but that Jesus came to save us by dying on the cross and taking the punishment we deserved. The idea goes that by believing in him and his saving work his punishment becomes effective for us and we can go to heaven instead. This paradigm of salvation, known as penal substitutionary atonement, is often alleged to be "what the Bible teaches". However, there are many reasons to think that penal substitution is not in fact what the Bible teaches - see my book for the details.

So if the Reformers got it wrong, what theology is actually taught by the Bible? Well, basically the theology that was taught by Christians before the Reformers came on the scene and which the Reformers rejected. In Protestant terminology this theology teaches that salvation is about "sanctification" (moral transformation) rather than "justification". It says that what God cares about, and judges people on is their 'hearts' - their inner moral character. God wants to lead people to be more loving, and he does this through the teachings and example of Jesus and the Holy Spirit at work in people. My book works through the details of the original Christian beliefs and looks at how we can be sure that this is really what the Bible teaches.