Print version ISSN 0259-9422
Herv. teol. stud. vol.64 no.4 Pretoria Oct./Dec. 2008
BOEKBESPREKINGS / BOOK REVIEWS
Bondos, D A 2007 - Salvation and the cross
Publisher: Fortress. 210 Pages. Price: Unknown
Reviewer: Prof Dr D P Veldsman (University of Pretoria)
David Brandos is an ordained Lutheran minister and professor of Theology at the Theological Community of Mexico. He teaches Systematic Theology and Biblical Studies at an ecumenical consortium of seminaries in Mexico City. Since 2005, Brondos has published three monographs, namely The Letter and the Spirit: Discerning God's Will in a Complex World (2005), Paul on the cross: Reconstructing the apostle's story of redemption (2006) and Salvation and the cross (2007). The latter work is on soteriology, that is, on the meaning of being saved and therefore also of the Christian claim that Christ died for our sins.
From his vantage point that "when Christians speak of salvation, they tell a story", Brandos poses the (descriptive) question on the what, why and how of redemption as it is understood by Christians. In the thirteen chapters he covers stories of redemption from the 7th century BC prophet Isaiah (Ch 1) to the 20th century liberation and feminist theologians Jon Sobrino (Ch 12) and Rosemary Radford Ruether (Ch 13) to uncover the rich, diverse and even competing (objective and subjective) understandings of salvation, their social context and their strengths and weaknesses. The work includes: The writings of Luke and Paul (Ch 2-3), the Church Fathers Irenaeus, Gregory of Nyssa and Anselm (Ch 4-6), the Reformers Luther and Calvin (Ch 7-8), and the German theologians Ritschl, Barth and Bultmann (Ch 9-11). Brandos has chosen these specific "stories on salvation" since they offer the reader a rich variety of very different perspectives on the subject. Brandos (page 3) - in my opinion - succeeds well in reaching the aim he has set for himself. In his own words: "By gaining a deeper understanding of the many problems, questions, and issues involved, it is hoped that the readers may be enabled to develop their own views on the subject more clearly while at the same time gaining a greater appreciation of views that differ from their own as well as the difficulties inherent to all of these views". This he has done exceptionally well. His soteriological survey in which "these figures speak for themselves", can admirably serve both the reading and teaching of soteriological viewpoints for student and teacher alike, especially since he highlights not only the inescapable connectivity of different views on salvation with different understandings of God, but also their varied dependence on the work of the Holy Spirit, the Church, the word of God and the sacraments given the adopted understandings of the work of Christ. Brandos convincingly concludes that any understanding of God, salvation or the work of Christ will in many respects be inevitably problematic. What is, however, important to him, is that in its own way, each of the stories of redemption he considered, is capable of contributing to the transformation of human beings and the world. This indeed is not only a theological mouthful, but a valuable insight for formulating any soteriological perspective. What enhances the value of text even more, is the inclusion of a helpful Timeline (ix-xi), Additional Resources (consisting of lists for Further Reading and Discussion Questions on each chapter, 199-210) a Glossary (211-213) and an Index (215-220).