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The Politics of Redemption: The Social Logic of Salvation.

The Politics of Redemption: The Social Logic of Salvation. By Adam Kotsko. New York: T&T Clark, 2010. ISBN: 978-0-5671-8566-2. 224 pages. Paper. $34.95.

The past decade has experienced a proliferation of texts addressing the theological, social, and ethical implications of our understanding of the atonement. In this text, Adam Kotsko engages on a scholarly yet accessible level with an impressively broad range of Christian thinkers in order to blend traditional Patristic readings of the atonement with contemporary concerns which have been largely shaped by liberation and political theology. By virtue of the sheer number of thinkers with whom he engages, Kotsko's argument is logically complex; however, his argument coheres and is worthy of thoughtful reading.

The heart of his project is to ask what the atonement says about the ontological structure of all creation, particularly of human beings. One of Kotsko's key concerns is to call into question the validity of any understanding of the atonement that renders divine violence and exclusion necessary. He methodically explores the development of the tradition's various atonement theories to suggest that redemption can only be properly understood as a social and political event, encompassing all of creation. Much of his argument hinges upon his allegorization of the devil as fallen political power and upon his understanding of sin, which he sees as the necessary possibility of freedom.

Though I am deeply sympathetic to Kotsko's desire to explicate the atonement in terms that are both non-violent in nature and universal in scope, I am unsure whose work Kotsko understands redemption to be. "Christ's wager was that this world can still attain to that purpose [the purpose for which Christ became incarnate]. Whether that will have been the case is now for us to determine, together." (206) However, Kotsko has written a book that is both readable and thought-provoking. It is a welcome contribution to the on-going discussion of a key--if thorny--theological and ethical question.

Mindy Makant

Duke Divinity School
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Author:Makant, Mindy
Publication:Currents in Theology and Mission
Article Type:Book review
Date:Oct 1, 2012
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