• 24 October 2014

New Book on Atonement a Sincere Contribution to the Church

The atonement is at the centre of our understanding of theology’ and questions about it ‘are in the minds of people in ordinary places everywhere’, Bishop Harold Miller said recently at the launch of a new book, Atonement as Gift: Re–Imagining the Cross for the Church and the World, edited by Dr Katie Heffelfinger and the Revd Dr Patrick McGlinchey, staff of the Church of Ireland Theological Institute in Dublin (CITI).

The Right Revd Harold Miller, Bishop of Down and Dromore, launched the new book, published by Paternoster, at an evening reception on Wednesday the 8 of October at CITI. It forms a diverse collection of essays which arose from a symposium on the subject held at CITI in May 2011. In welcoming those attending the launch and commending the editors and authors, the Director of CITI, the Revd Dr Maurice Elliott, said that the book was the culmination of a huge effort and long hours by the editors and was significant as evidence of the Institute’s integrated approach to theology and ministry. Dr Elliott said that CITI’s aim was to ‘seek to learn respect for different traditions’ and that the dialogue contained in the book modelled that approach, being ‘warm, pastoral and irenical’. He concluded that CITI sought to train people for ministry but ‘also to make a contribution to the wider church and as such the new book was sincerely offered’.

Drawing on personal experiences in Belfast and Cork, Bishop Miller said that the central question as to ‘why Jesus had to die’ is not just something that arises for discussion at a theological level but also in very practical situation of outreach today. Recalling Cranmer’s double triplet of Christ’s offering one ‘full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice, oblation and satisfaction’ on the cross, he thanked the editors and authors for this ‘very usable’ book which ‘engages in dialogue’ and ‘allows us to reflect and to use it in parochial settings where people are engaged’. Bishop Miller concluded that the book ‘does what we should do’ by approaching the atonement ‘like a diamond – to be seen from a multifaceted range of angles’ and in taking these all together finding something ‘fresh and new’ while realising that there ‘is more in it than we ever knew’.

The book is divided into four sections: the cross and reality; broken relationships in a fractured world; re–imagining the self in the light of the cross; and conclusions by the editors. Among those attending the launch were two of the contributors: Dr Cathriona Russell of TCD and the Revd Dr Robin Stockitt.

By Dr Paul Harron

This article first appeared in The Church of Ireland Gazette (Issue: 24 October 2014)

Pictured above L–R: Revd Dr Maurice Elliott, Revd Dr Patrick McGlinchey, Dr Katie Heffelfinger and Bishop Harold Miller.