In Delivered from the Elements of the World Peter Leithart reframes Anselm's question, "Why the God Man?" Instead he asks, "How can the death and resurrection of a Jewish rabbi of the first century . . . be the decisive event in the history of humanity, the hinge and crux and crossroads for everything?"
With the question reframed for the wide screen, Leithart pursues the cultural and public settings and consequences of the cross and resurrection. He writes, "I hope to show that atonement theology must be social theory if it is going to have any coherence, relevance or comprehensibility at all."
There are no small thoughts or cramped plot lines in this vision of the deep-down things of cross and culture. While much is recognizable as biblical theology projected along Pauline vectors, Leithart marshals a stunning array of discourse to crack open one of the big questions of Christian theology. This is a book on the atonement that eludes conventional categories, prods our theological imaginations and is sure to spark conversation and debate.
"Peter Leithart is one of our best and most creative theologians. In this wide-ranging book Leithart shows that doctrine is not some abstract entity disconnected from contemporary life but is in fact deeply relevant and pregnant with social and political insights. Leithart is biblically, theologically and culturally literate—a rare combination—and thus able to produce the sort of work we so badly need today. Attending to the doctrines of the atonement and justification, he writes in the best tradition of apologetics, namely that of creative, orthodox, contextual theology."
"Among contemporary theologians, only Leithart has the biblical erudition, theological breadth and rhetorical power necessary for writing a book like this one. His Christian creativity and love for Jesus Christ jump off the page. As an account of atonement, this book is also an account of the entirety of Christian reality, and indeed of the reality of Israel as well, in light of pagan and secular cultures and in light of the church's own failures to live what Christ has given. At its heart is an urgent call for all Christians, living in the Spirit, to share the Eucharist together against every fleshly barrier and Spirit-less form of exclusion. Leithart's dazzling biblical and ecumenical manifesto merits the closest attention and engagement."
"When you read Peter Leithart, you suddenly realize how timid most Christian theologians are, tepidly offering us a few 'insights' to edify our comfort with the status quo. Leithart is like a lightning strike from a more ancient, more courageous Christian past, his flaming pen fueled by biblical acuity and scholarly rigor. In this book, he does it again—here is the City of God written afresh for our age, asking a question you didn't know to ask but now can't avoid: Why is the cross the center of human history? Couldn't God have found another way? Leithart's answer—this book—is a monumental achievement."
"I have benefitted greatly from Leithart's work. It was a work immersed in the Scriptures and also sensitive to contemporary concerns. . . . I see Leithart's work as a creative ecumenical proposal that can serve as a starting point to bridge the East and the West. In an age where the rhetoric of unity becomes cheapened by division and violence, Leithart advance a program where fleshy structures of exclusion and division are abolished. Spirit in flesh: that is new creation."
1. Atonement as Social Theory
Part I: Under the Elements of the World
2. The Physics of the Old Creation
3. Among Gentiles: An Ancient Jewish Travelogue
5. What Torah Does
Part II: Good News of God's Justice
6. The Justice of God
7. The Faith of Jesus Christ
Part III: Justification
8. Justified by the Faith of Jesus
9. Justified from the Elements
Part IV: Contributions to a Theology of Mission
10. In Ranks with the Spirit
11. Outside the Christian Era
12. Galatian Church, Galatian Age
13. Cur Deus Homo?
Appendix 1: The Metaphysics of Atonement: Natural and Supernatural
Appendix 2: Nature, the Supernatural and Justification
Appendix 3: Atonement by Deliverdict: Romans