Review: Marcus Peter Johnson, One with Christ: An Evangelical Theology of Salvation, Crossway, 2013.
One with Christ is a great book. It’s a fresh look at the doctrine of salvation through the lens of our union with Christ. Here’s Johnson’s own summary of what he’s trying to do:
In far too many evangelical expressions of the gospel, the saving work of Christ has been so distanced from his person that the notion of a saving personal union with the incarnate, crucified, resurrection, living Jesus strikes us as rather outlandish … We are dire need of the reminder that Christ’s saving work is of no benefit to us unless we are joined to the living Saviour whose work it is. (15)
The focus is on salvation, but there’s a suggestive chapter on original sin, and a thought-provoking chapter on the word and sacraments.
Back in the day when I was working on my PhD a wrote a paper in union with Christ at the top of which my supervisor wrote ‘Calvin’. At the time I’d read relatively little of Calvin himself. Yet I had apparently imbibed much of his theology through my up-bringing in UK Reformed, evangelical churches. That paper went on to form the conclusion of my PhD. I mention this because One with Christ is marred by a tendency to rather over-state the uniqueness of the book – a failing which also makes many of Tom Wright’s recent books irritating reads! Perhaps the vagaries of publishing demand this sort of thing. But at times Johnson seems to portray himself as the only evangelical who has ever thought about union with Christ – a claim which is consistently undermined as he brings out quote after quote from evangelical luminaries to support his case!
But please don’t let this put you off the book. It is full of good material – material to inform your mind and warm your heart.
I’ll post some quotes from the book in a future post.
Note, too, In Christ: In Him Together for the World by Steve Timmis and Christopher de la Hoyde which looks at the missiological implications of our union with Christ. It’s part of the Porterbrook Network imprint with Christian Focus and is available here from amazon.com and amazon.co.uk.