Hearts & Minds BookNotes

annotations, blurbs and ruminations

to enlarge the heart & stimulate the mind

and to happily generate mail order business for Hearts & Minds bookstore

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Location: Dallastown, PA

My lovely wife Beth and I own and operate--proprietors makes us sound more classy than we really are--a cluttered, diverse and independent bookstore in Central Pennsylvania. After well over 20 years, we are still not sure what to say when people ask if our shop is a "Christian bookstore." I do a monthly book review column over at our website; we hope that these new blogged bits will afford friends and customers the chance to see other books I happen to be reading, wishing to read, pretending that I read or at least believe that others should, if not read, know about. We have three children, attend a Presbyterian church in York, PA and have no hobbies.

Friday, April 06, 2007

The resolution of the symphony of history: the death and resurrection of Jesus

I know there are various ways to think about the atonement, and this ugly Friday reminds us of many. And I am aware that there is something troubling about only ever emphasizing one particular model of justification, since the Bible offers several, from adoption and reconciliation to victory over death. But underneath them all, there is this strong Biblical theme of what is at the heart of the Cross, what theologians call "substitionary atonement."

Here, then, from a breath-taking chapter on Christ's sacrifice, from John Piper's The Pleasures of God.

Something troubling has emerged in these chapters.

We have seen that God has pleasure in His Son: he delights in the glory of his own perfections reflected back to him in the countenance of Christ. We have seen that God delights in his sovereign freedom: the Lord is in heaven and does all that he pleases. We have seen that he rejoices over the work of his hands: day by day they declare his glory. We have seen that God has pleasure in his fame: he aims to make a name for himself in all the world and win a reputation for the glory of his grace from every people and tribe and language and nation. And we have seen that, as a means to that end, God has had pleasure in election from before creation: he delights to reveal the glory of his Son to babes and to call out for himself an unlikely people who will make their boast only in the Lord.

Clearly God has a great passion to promote his glory. But the troubling thing that emerges is that God has chosen sinners. He is honoring and blessing and exalting a people who are sinners. And the essence of sin is the belittling of God's glory. Something is askew here. A god infinitely committed to promote the worth of his name and the greatness of his glory is engaging all his powers to bring the enemies of his name into everlasting joy and honor!

Make no mistake, sin is diametrically opposed to the glory of God....(in Romans 3:23) Paul means that sinners have fallen short of prizing the glory of God. We have exchanged the glory of God for something else: for images of glory, like a new home or car or VCR or vacation days or impressive resumes or whatever makes our ticker tick more than the wonder of God's glory...

...The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the resolution of the symphony of history. In the death of Jesus the two themes of God's love for his glory and his love for sinners are resolved. As in all good symphonies there had been hints and suggestions of the final resolution. That is what we have in Isaiah 53 seven hundred years before Jesus came...

John Piper
"The Pleasure of God in Bruising the Son"
The Pleasures of God: Meditations on God's Delight in Being God