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A Better Atonement: Beyond the Depraved Doctrine of Original Sin
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A Better Atonement: Beyond the Depraved Doctrine of Original Sin

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3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  166 ratings  ·  32 reviews
In A Better Atonement, theologian Tony Jones debunks the traditional doctrine of Original Sin and shows how that doctrine has polluted our view of the atonement.

In an intriguing interlude, Jones distances himself from other progressive theologians and biblical scholars by strongly defending the historical crucifixion and physical resurrection of Jesus.

Jones then summarizes...more
Kindle Edition, 46 pages
Published March 18th 2012 by The JoPa Group

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David Wierzbicki
No punches pulled. Readers will be astounded as much by Jones' willingness to speak his mind about the most sacred of trendy evangelical doctrines as by his "conservative" belief and adherence to time-honored credal orthodoxies. These commitments hold together well and provide us with an honest and current rendering of how to clearly articulate an understanding of atonement theory in 2012.
Jeff
A very interesting look at the theories of atonement and how they were developed and what are biblical models and what have been derived from the culture around these theories.

I appreciated Tony going out of way to show that Original Sin is not held by the conglomeration of Orthodox Churches (Eastern, Oriental, etc.) and has never been held by these Christians. Which then presents a problem for modern day Protestants and Catholics, as that is the fundamental doctrine underpinning Penal Substitut...more
Josh Hopping
Off and on over the last past few years I have been thinking about the different metaphors used in the Bible to describe why Jesus came to walk among humanity, died, rose again and etc. (the fancy theological word for this is the “atonement”). Interestingly enough I’m not the only person thinking about this issue as modern Jesus followers re-discover of the mystery of the atonement. Folks such as N.T. Wright, Scot McKnight, John Piper, Al Mohler and Brian McLaren are all offering their opinions...more
Marty Solomon
It will be hard to expound on this book by Tony Jones and do it the credit it deserves.

Tony writes a book that addresses the mess of an understanding on atonement that we are interacting with today. With the Penal Substitution Theory being the dominant view of the evangelical movement, and with Christus Victor being given new prominence through thinkers like Greg Boyd, this very short read is timely and useful.

In the first part, Tony addresses the issue of Original Sin. Where did the doctrine co...more
Anita
This book is in two parts. The first part, on Original Sin, takes on the Calvinist doctrine or Original Sin. Jones explains his rejection of this doctrine. He fails, however, to show alternatives. I am a Lutheran, so our confession is not the "total depravity" of Calvinism, but that "we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves." This has to do with our sinful condition both personally and societally. I wish Tony Jones had included this type of alternative in Part One.

However, I loved the...more
Mike
A quick read that gives a great overview of the different theories of atonement - where they came from, their strengths & weaknesses.
Tom
Rating this book was very difficult. At times it deserved the three stars it eventually got, other times it deserved 5 stars....easily.

Tony Jones pulls no punches in denying original sin and does a decent job of providing numerous reasons as to why it may not be such a clear cut doctrine as we are typically, at least those of us raised in christian homes and churches, bound to believe. This does not mean that I have dropped my position of adhering to the idea of original sin, but it does mean t...more
Joel
This book - more of a booklet, really - was more of an interesting introduction to the author's personal tableau of doctrines than anything else. It seems pretty clear that this work started out as a series of blog posts rather than as a book proper. What that means is that the emphasis is more on a conversational tone at the expense of being patient and comprehensive. Theological ideas and propositions are tossed out there for your consideration and you are casually invited to consider how the...more
Ben
This book was a quick and useful read. It was nothing revolutionary - more of a summary of others thoughts and theories - but it gave a small glimpse into Tony's take on the atonement as well. There are many other more complete summaries of existing thought on the atonement out there, such as Mark Baker's "Proclaiming the Scandal of the Cross". I really enjoyed reading this book though as it gave me a bit more insight on the push and pull a follower of Jesus like Tony feels between liberal and c...more
Nate
Good synopsis of atonement theories and critical history of the doctrine of original sin. Joel Green's Recovering the Scandal of the Cross or Scot McKnight's A Community Called Atonement might give a more comprehensive treatment of the topic. Sometimes reading Tony Jones' books feels like reading a term paper or a sermon rather than a detailed exposition of the subject.
Brian
This was a very short book, if we can even call it that. Many will find this book upsetting if not downright disturbing. However, I enjoyed the book for the most part. I can't say I completely agree with Jones' conclusions, if in fact he makes any. The point of this book seems to be to point out to others that there are different views of the atonement held by Christians. Many today assume that Penal Substitution is the gospel, but in fact it not, it is just one view of the atonement. I don't th...more
Alex
A great introduction to the different conversations on atonement. You may agree or you may disagree with Tony Jones' conclusions, however his writing can create good doubt that makes you understand atonement for yourself.
Kevin
A very short but accessible introduction to the issues surrounding various theories of atonement. It was an engaging and thought provoking essay but it really left me wanting more depth and detail. Of course, I am not sure I have the time or focus to really dig into these issues.

Jones rejects the concept of Original Sin and the growing tendency to equate Penal Substitution as the Gospel. He reviews the various historical approaches to atonement and then offers his own.

Books like this are really...more
Sam
While I admire Jones' efforts, and am profoundly grateful that he would attempt to ignite conversation around the atonement, I certainly can't say he convinced me of anything.
This booklet was immensely helpful as a brief compendium of theories of the atonement, and gave me new knowledge and things to think about.
He needs more space and more time to fill in the things he presupposes in order to get to his conclusion. There were far too many places where he led into his evidence or arguments by st...more
David
Tony Jones is working to fill the gap, or perhaps answer the criticism, that says the "emerging church" is light on theology. This little book, an essay really, critiques the doctrine of original sin, questions the primacy of substitutionary atonement and argues for a better way to view the atonement. I suppose those predisposed to not like such a rethinking, those who see penal substitution as the pinnacle of gospel truth, will hate this work and those who are predisposed to question it will lo...more
Pat Loughery
This work contains a nice summary of atonement theories from the perspective of a progressive Christian. If the dominant Evangelical model of Penal Substitutionary Atonement doesn't seem to you like the only or best illustration of God's saving work in Jesus, this book is a worthwhile read.

It is approachable, having begun its life as a blog series. It is not particularly technical, but it is helpful for curious Christians who wish to broaden their understanding of historical developments in ato...more
Tim
I am sympathetic with the need, but Jones is too simplistic, snarky, and dismissive (until actually addressing John Piper when a bit more snark might be welcome). Too little of anything new (aside from a couple of pages on Rene Girard) and way too much of Jones. And when he offers his own view of the atonement it's rushed in a couple of paragraphs at the end. Scot McKnight's book on the Atonement is much better in both its summaries of historical thought and in offering another potential way for...more
David
Swift and beautiful. Wonderful historical and personal exploration of the *many* ways atonement has been thought through Christian history. Best, this historical perspective allows us to see a way forward from here, free of the distortions and blind spots forced upon us by idolatrous elevation of Penal Substitutionary Atonement (PSA) over all others. Tony Jones, Peter Rollins, Moltmann, Volf, Girard, Trible, even Rob Bell, there's some real life and transformational thinking going on. Progress....more
MaryAnn
A decent overview of the different views of the atonement. I'm leading a discussion in January at the church I serve on "why did Jesus have to die" which was suggested by members of the church. This will help.

I think the book is short by design, but I did want a little longer description of the different views, including where Tony eventually lands. The book ends abruptly--I wanted more discussion about the implications of the solidarity approach to the atonement.

That said, it's a quick read an...more
Robbie
I liked his discussion of original sin and I found his arguments pretty convincing. I think reading this book in conjunction with Peter Enns book on evolution and the creation story is a good idea. Enns book provides a more in depth discussion of the creation narrative which can be helpful in understanding Tony Jones' perspective. Overall I would recommend this book to individuals that want an introduction to this theological perspective.
Nathan
Good book if you like reading something that might question your beliefs.

Jones does a good job breaking down his personal beliefs of the doctrine of Original Sin and then moves on to the doctrine of Atonement and what it means once you remove Original Sin from the equation. The rest of this short book is made up of various explanations for the purpose of the Atonement, or why exactly Jesus had to die.

Rob McFarren
Nice short take on the atonement, presenting some of the theories of it out there. I appreciate the attitude that varying ideas on it are ok within Christianity. While too short to fully be convincing, it was a nice primer and discussion piece when thinking about the atonement, particularly if you see or wrestle with the penal substitutionary view (which I do).
Kari
I got this book for free so I suppose I shouldn't complain, but it seemed very sloppy. At times it referred to itself as a post and at times it referred to itself as a book. There were also so many typos that at times I was not sure whether I was understanding the sentences I was reading. I also thought it ended abruptly.
Gavoweb
I am not the seminary grad, so I found this to a great briefer on the facets of atonement. Not a long read, took it on in one sitting, but very enlightening for me. If you are a seminary grad then you probably take more argument for and against Tony's thoughts. But maybe you like that as well.
Ryan Bell
Good, brief overview of atonement theology you can read in an hour or so. It suffers from a lack of editing and awkward colloquialisms but is surprisingly engaging and comprehensive for so short a book.
Tami Jo
Difficult concepts, but definitely worth the effort. Helped me understand some of my dissatisfaction with what I was taught growing up. Ordered another book by Jones on youth ministry
Ian Guy
Suggests ways to think about what Jesus did for us on the cross without Original Sin and Penal Substitution
Chris Hubbs
Interesting overview of atonement views without being particularly persuasive towards Jones' own position.
Ike
Short, but a good introduction into the various theories of atonement.
Dr. David Steele
Not recommended! If only "O" stars were an option ...
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The Hitler button 1 11 Apr 10, 2012 05:37AM  
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Tony Jones, M.Div., Ph.D., is the author of a dozen books. He blogs \ at Theoblogy. Tony is the theologian-in-residence at Solomon’s Porch, professor in the practice of theology at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, has developed an iPhone app (Ordain Thyself), teaches at Fuller Theological Seminary, co-owns a social media and event company, and speaks regularly at conferences around...more
More about Tony Jones...
The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier The Sacred Way: Spiritual Practices for Everyday Life Postmodern Youth Ministry: Exploring Cultural Shift, Creating Holistic Connections, Cultivating Authentic Community The Teaching of the Twelve: Believing & Practicing the Primitive Christianity of the Ancient Didache Community Soul Shaper: Exploring Spirituality and Contemplative Practices in Youth Ministry

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