Peter J. Leithart is President of Thepolis Institute for Biblical, Liturgical, and Cultural Studies in Birmingham, Alabama, and adjunct Senior Fellow of Theology at New St. Andrews College in Moscow, Idaho. Leithart is ordained in the Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches. He has earned an M.A.R. and a Th.M. from Westminster Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge. Leithart has written numerous books on a wide range of biblical and theological topics. Most recently, Leithart has provided an up-to-date, well-researched, and thoroughly documented investigation into the unique nature and function of the Atonement for everyday life—Delivered from the Elements of the World: Atonement, Justification, and Mission.
Delivered from the Elements of the World is primarily concerned with repositioning the dialogue of atonement towards a more practical and applicable social theory. It is here that Leithart offers a helpful approach that detaches the abstractness of the doctrine and shines a fresh light of practicality into the contemporary conversation. The process of developing this reality is founded in Paul’s letter to the Galatians (specifically Paul’s words “the elementary principals of the world” in Galatians 4) and provides the reader with a host of biblical-theological themes that will cultivate deeper reflection. For Leithart, the person and work of Christ has brought about a required social change that challenges every corner of society, as the world is no longer bound by “elementary principals” but the lordship of Christ—a reality that affects all mankind (p. 203), including Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, and Jews (p. 239-257).
Delivered from the Elements of the World will be recognized as controversial despite Leithart’s efforts to stay within the confines of orthodoxy. Nevertheless, while there were a few disagreements here and there, I found the overall intention and approach of Leithart’s work to be rather refreshing and creative. It isn’t often that you come across something new and exciting when it comes to the atonement. It tends to be the same conversations and the same debates using the same points of argument and the same biblical references. Leithart’s work is different. It was practical and inviting, and yet scholarly and well-researched. Leithart hypothesizes about the implications of the atonement in such a way that the reader will be challenged more deeply to live within the reality of Christ’s atoning work—and, for that reason alone, Delivered from the Elements of the World: Atonement, Justification, and Mission is a book that should be read and pondered by all. It comes highly recommended!
I received a review copy of this books in exchange for and honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.