Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Book Review: Precious Blood

The blood of Christ and his atoning work are at the very centre of the Christian faith. Books that help us to think again about that precious blood are very important, none more so than this volume. Having read this in the run up to Easter (yet only getting around to reviewing it now), there was much to savour and enjoy.

Emerging from the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology of 2008, Precious Blood isn't just a book of conference addresses. Rather, it's a wonderful set of chapters which deal with the biblical and theological importance of the blood of the Lord Jesus. Split into two main parts, the first considers the atonement in biblical revelation; while the second explores the atonement in Christian thought through various theologians and periods of Church history. I personally found the biblical material better, but it was good to see how the theology of the atonement has been received and taught in the last two thousand years.

Each chapter comes from a different author's pen, which presents the need to quickly adapt from one writer's style to another, but each of the contributions is helpful. Joel Beeke kicks off with an analysis of Exodus 12 and the Passover in his chapter on Necessary Blood. Robert Godfrey continues by explaining Redeeming Blood from Psalm 49, which wasn't one of the 'purple passages' I would have expected in such a book. Philip Graham Ryken comes next with his chapter on Atoning Blood from Romans 3, followed by Richard D Phillips (the editor of the book) on Cleansing Blood from Hebrews 9. Offensive Blood is the subject of Robert Godfrey's next contribution, in a study of Philippians 3, before RC Sproul concludes the first section with the Precious Blood of 1 Peter 1.

The second section considers the atonement in the Early Church (Derek Thomas), Anselm (Philip Graham Ryken), the Reformation (Robert Godfrey), the Puritans (Joel Beeke), developments since the Reformation (Carl R Trueman), and the 'non-violent' critics of penal substitutionary atonement (Richard D Phillips).

This would be a good book for someone who has a grasp of the basics and wishes to explore the doctrine in greater depth. The range of angles is useful, and I'll certainly be returning to the book to use some of the illustrations and ideas for sermons in the future. All in all, it's a great book I would be happy to recommend. The only place I've seen it online is: Precious Blood.

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