Timothy Gorringe. Salvation. Epworth Press, 2000.
British theologian Timothy Gorringe has written several important books that combine in an exemplary way solid scholarship with direct engagement with present social issues (my favorite is God’s Just Vengeance: Crime, Violence and the Rhetoric of Salvation). Here he addresses the general theme of salvation in an self-consciously popular-level way. I think it is a very helpful book and would work well in a study group.
Gorringe uses the story of a young couple who are beginning a romantic relationship–one a charismatic evangelical, the other an agnostic. He recounts their conversations, interspersed with more overt theological reflection. In the end, the couple meet kind of in the middle, in a socially-engaged, thoughtful, theologically-inclusive common ground (likely close to the kind of faith Gorringe himself affirms).
In Gorringe’s God’s Just Vengeance, he traces the historical link between retribution-oriented doctrines of salvation and the practice of state-sponsored violence in the treatment of convicted criminals. In the final part of the book, he outlines an alternative understanding of salvation. In his little book, Salvation, he does not develop his constructive theology any further, but he does helpfully set it in the context of contemporary life and shows its relevance by looking as the stories of his two main protagonists.
In short, Timothy Gorringe deserves our gratitude for giving us an antidote to the problematic views of salvation that are so widespread among “people in the pew.” It’s too bad that this book is hard to find–it deserves to be used widely.