This past weekend I read The Crucified King: Atonement and Kingdom in Biblical and Systematic Theology by Jeremy Treat. A full review will be coming soon, but I wanted offer a few preliminary thoughts.
The number of books that fly across my radar is staggering. I have to be pretty selective about what I read, and there are plenty of good and worthy books that don’t necessarily excite me just because, well, there are so many good books and a lot of them say the same thing. The Crucified King excited me immediately when I heard about it because the very title (subtitle, to be exact) brings together two pairs of topics that are unfortunately frequently torn asunder: atonement and kingdom, and biblical and systematic theology. In fact, the dichotomization of the latter in part causes the dichotomization of the former, which is why a comprehensive treatment of kingdom and atonement requires an integration of biblical and systematic the0logy.
In the introduction Treat provides six reasons why the rift between atonement and kingdom developed (pp. 26-29).
- reactionary conservative response to the social gospel movement of the early twentieth century.
- fragmentation of Scripture ever since the enlightenment – if the Bible is not a unified whole, then there is no need to integrate seemingly incompatible themes.
- the “ugly ditch” between biblical studies and systematic theology, since the former tends to emphasize the kingdom of God and the latter focuses largely on the doctrine of the atonement.
- the Gospels (where the kingdom theme is most explicit) have largely been ignored as a source for theology.
- oversystematization of doctrines as such the states and offices of Christ. If the cross is only in the state of humiliation, and Christ’s death is interpreted only in terms of his priestly office , it’s hard to see how atonement relates to kingdom.
- if one has a mistaken view of either the kingdom or the cross, then obviously the two cannot be properly related.
The Crucified King will probably end up being one of my favorite books of the year. If you have an interest in any of the four topics in the subtitle (atonement, kingdom, biblical theology, systematic theology) you will love this book. But you will especially appreciate it if you lament the dichotomization of either atonement and kingdom and/or biblical and systematic theology and long to see these pairs integrated as they should be. This book is the published version of Treat’s doctoral dissertation at Wheaton under Kevin Vanhoozer.