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Proclaiming the Scandal of the Cross

Contemporary Images of the Atonement

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"Imagine theology of the atonement actually lived out, preached, and debated as an actual part of life! Read Proclaiming the Scandal of the Cross and this is what you will find. I couldn't put it down and will recommend it to my students."--William A. Dyrness, Fuller Theological Seminary

It's not often that a book is written to answer the "So what?" question, but that's precisely the case with Proclaiming the Scandal of the Cross. Inspiration for the book came when Mark Baker and Joel Green wrote Recovering the Scandal of the Cross, an argument against those evangelical theologians and pastors who focused on the penal satisfaction theory of the atonement to the exclusion of other complementary explanations. Readers were struck by their argument, but they asked, "How do we now preach the atonement? And how do we explain the saving significance of the cross when we evangelize?"


In Proclaiming the Scandal of the Cross, Baker brings together presentations of the atonement given in a variety of contexts, from Africa to suburban Los Angeles, from junior high Sunday school classes to coffee shops. The images and metaphors in the book have been developed by pastors, writers, and theologians, including Richard B. Hays, C. S. Lewis, Frederica Mathewes-Green, Brian D. McLaren, Luci Shaw, and Rowan Williams. Readers are invited to learn from their creative examples to proclaim the scandal of the cross in engaging ways in their own contexts. These writers reveal that Christians should embrace a whole constellation of perspectives on the atonement, all mutually reinforcing, because the language of the atonement must at once be metaphorical, pastoral, and salvific. As such, the book will appeal to pastors, professors, students, evangelists, youth leaders, and Bible study leaders who want to profit from the theology of the atonement as it applies across the whole spectrum of human experience.

Contributors include:

Mark D. Baker

C. S. Lewis

Frederica Mathewes-Green

Chris Friesen

Debbie Blue

Dan Whitmarsh

Rowan Williams

Richard B. Hays

Steve Taylor

Brian D. McLaren

Doug Frank

Grace Y. May

Mike McNichols

Ryan Schellenberg

Luci Shaw

Gwinyai H. Muzorewa

Curtis Chang

Steve Todd



"Imagine theology of the atonement lived out, preached, and debated as an actual part of life! Read Proclaiming the Scandal of the Cross and this is what you will find. I couldn't put it down and will recommend it to my students."--William A. Dyrness, dean emeritus and senior professor of theology and culture, Fuller Theological Seminary

"Perhaps all of us shudder to think how narrow our earliest understanding of the atonement was. Mark Baker's book offers us a treasure chest filled with complementary truths presented in distinct and surprising packages. Each chapter--a gem of poetry, drama, story, or sermon--is a unique gift to enable us to see with fresh perspective and greater fullness what God has done for us in Christ at the cross and empty tomb. This collection is an outstanding contribution to widen our comprehension and deepen our adoration!"--Marva J. Dawn, author of Talking the Walk and The Sense of the Call

The Author

  1. Mark D. Baker

    Mark D. Baker

    Mark D. Baker (PhD, Duke University) is associate professor of mission and theology at Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary in Fresno, California. In addition to coauthoring Recovering the Scandal of the Cross, he has written three other books.

    Continue reading about Mark D. Baker


"Baker seeks to provide insights that see the atonement from perspectives other than the penal satisfaction model. Whatever your theological approach, you'll find much to inspire and provoke thought."--PreachingNow

"A gem of a collection, displaying diverse facets useful for communicating the atonement. . . . I was deeply moved by many of the images presented in this rich resource of fresh stories of atonement. . . . Baker's hope is that these diverse and creative images will reinvigorate the preaching of those who have abandoned teaching on the subject because of a lack of alternative language and imagery that connects with needs pastorally. I believe that goal has been well-served with this collection."--R. Larry Shelton, Cultural Encounters

"I commend Baker for attempting to put a more practical face on his previous publication [Recovering the Scandal of the Cross] and found many of the essays both interesting and helpful. . . . It is worth a read, especially if you are looking for fresh ways to talk about the atonement."--Lance Christie, Mennonite Brethren Herald

"Baker's array of images generates real potency for his book. . . . Even those committed to a prevailing penal satisfaction premise can still discover fresh, more nuanced approaches to enlarge evangelistic and pastoral ministry. Clearly Baker's examples can help us connect not only with the real world but with our real selves as well. . . . Proclaiming the Scandal of the Cross will serve me as a resource and catalyst for years to come. The writing is clear; the images are vivid. Far from being trendy or simplistic, this book will deepen and enlarge."--Stephen Stanley, Prism

"This challenging collection encourages readers guided by missiological sensitivity to engage in continuous exploration of the atonement."--Wilbert R. Shenk, Evangelical Missions Quarterly

"The book's great strength relates to the diversity of theological traditions, western contexts, and academic and pastoral viewpoints from which it draws. Contributions from C. S. Lewis, Richard Hays, and other scholars integrate well with reflections from others involved in pastoral ministries, where proclamation of the scandal of the cross most frequently occurs. . . . A final strength of Proclaiming the Scandal of the Cross is its capacity for use in numerous environments. It would work well in a seminary or even in advanced undergraduate theology courses. Similarly, a group of laity committed to reading it in a Christian education setting would not find it beyond their grasp. The short length of the essays (averaging about seven pages) makes it easy to parse out over a few weeks or even a liturgical season. Mark Baker is to be congratulated for encouraging Christians to think more broadly about the images they use to conceptualize and describe the soteriological activity of Jesus Christ. This book will provide a rewarding and stimulating read for those who are not averse to such challenges."--Richard Rawls, Direction

"Since each chapter was selected to emphasize the metaphorical, pastoral, and salvific aspects of the atonement, the work is pleasantly helpful for those working in ministry contexts. The chapters are intentionally non-academic and based on oral presentations, so the book is easy to read, personally edifying, and practically insightful. The contributions vary widely, with authors ranging from prominent figures like C. S. Lewis, Rowan Williams, and Richard Hays to ordinary pastors and ministers. Such multiple perspectives deepen the value of the collection. Also, the many genres employed to communicate the atonement . . . inspire readers to both create fresh theologies of the atonement and utilize multiple methods to communicate them. . . . A practical and engaging resource that rightfully stimulates the missions community to contextualize the very heart of Christianity--the death of Christ."--Jason Borges, Mission Studies