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Accomplished theologian J. Todd Billings recovers the biblical theme of union with Christ for today's church, making a fresh contribution to the theological discussion with important applications for theology and ministry. Drawing on Scripture and the thought of figures such as Augustine, Calvin, Bavinck, and Barth, Billings shows how a theology of union with Christ can ch Accomplished theologian J. Todd Billings recovers the biblical theme of union with Christ for today's church, making a fresh contribution to the theological discussion with important applications for theology and ministry. Drawing on Scripture and the thought of figures such as Augustine, Calvin, Bavinck, and Barth, Billings shows how a theology of union with Christ can change the way believers approach worship, justice, mission, and the Christian life. He illuminates how union with Christ can change the theological conversation about thorny topics such as total depravity and the mystery of God. Billings also provides a critique and alternative to the widely accepted paradigm of incarnational ministry and explores a gospel-centered approach to social justice. Throughout, he offers a unique and lively exploration of what is so amazing about being united to the living Christ.


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Accomplished theologian J. Todd Billings recovers the biblical theme of union with Christ for today's church, making a fresh contribution to the theological discussion with important applications for theology and ministry. Drawing on Scripture and the thought of figures such as Augustine, Calvin, Bavinck, and Barth, Billings shows how a theology of union with Christ can ch Accomplished theologian J. Todd Billings recovers the biblical theme of union with Christ for today's church, making a fresh contribution to the theological discussion with important applications for theology and ministry. Drawing on Scripture and the thought of figures such as Augustine, Calvin, Bavinck, and Barth, Billings shows how a theology of union with Christ can change the way believers approach worship, justice, mission, and the Christian life. He illuminates how union with Christ can change the theological conversation about thorny topics such as total depravity and the mystery of God. Billings also provides a critique and alternative to the widely accepted paradigm of incarnational ministry and explores a gospel-centered approach to social justice. Throughout, he offers a unique and lively exploration of what is so amazing about being united to the living Christ.

30 review for Union with Christ: Reframing Theology and Ministry for the Church

  1. 4 out of 5

    Garry Geer

    This book isn't perfect, but it came along at a great time for me. I've been reading a fair amount on the Union with Christ from other authors. Billings did a great job in teasing out some of applications without really stretching the text. He had a far more organic view on revelation and sanctification as it related to union with Christ. This book isn't perfect, but it came along at a great time for me. I've been reading a fair amount on the Union with Christ from other authors. Billings did a great job in teasing out some of applications without really stretching the text. He had a far more organic view on revelation and sanctification as it related to union with Christ.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    A helpful paradigm for understanding salvation and ministry through the lens of our Union with Christ. Especially loved the chapter on UwC and the Lord's Supper and the implications for fighting for justice in the world. The last chapter critiquing incarnational ministry maybe needs a bit more nuance but has some helpful thoughts. A helpful paradigm for understanding salvation and ministry through the lens of our Union with Christ. Especially loved the chapter on UwC and the Lord's Supper and the implications for fighting for justice in the world. The last chapter critiquing incarnational ministry maybe needs a bit more nuance but has some helpful thoughts.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Greg Bailey

    This book is not so much an explication of the doctrine of union with Christ as an examination of facets of it. Nevertheless, it was helpful for me in places, especially the sections on adoption and divine accommodation.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    Pretty good, though some chapters felt a little too long. It’s also interesting to see many of the issues for which the author retrieved the past are in some ways now dated. That being the case, still quite good.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    Though densely theological, and sometimes ponderous, the content of this book is still fairly accessible and excellently well layed out. I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to dig a little deeper into theology.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Great suggestions for the Church moving forward from a Reformed stance.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kris Lundgaard

    Worth lots of reflection, discussion--and action.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Coram Deo Church

    Union with Christ is not currently available at local libraries.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Dan Glover

    J. Todd Billings has written an accessible, articulate and challenging book dealing with various doctrinal and practical implications of the Christian's adoption by God through the saving work of Christ and by the agency of the Spirit. While not an exhaustive exploration of the doctrine of union with Christ, this study does explore various aspects and implications of it. This is a work of theological retrieval, drawing on past and often forgotten sources, especially Calvin, to bring something lo J. Todd Billings has written an accessible, articulate and challenging book dealing with various doctrinal and practical implications of the Christian's adoption by God through the saving work of Christ and by the agency of the Spirit. While not an exhaustive exploration of the doctrine of union with Christ, this study does explore various aspects and implications of it. This is a work of theological retrieval, drawing on past and often forgotten sources, especially Calvin, to bring something long neglected back to the foreground for the edification of the church today. In chapter 1, Billings examines the implications of the doctrine of union with Christ as a much needed corrective for large swaths of the modern church's (especially in North America) practice of the faith as a form of Moral Therapeutic Deism and he shows how a robust understanding of union places us in a relationship with God where we are being graciously conformed to the image of his Son rather than us morphing a detached God into an idol made in our own image and for our own convenience. In chapter 2 Billings discusses Calvin's doctrine of union and how, rightly understood, it counter balances the tendency to misunderstand the doctrine of total depravity in a number of ways by either proponents or opponents of the doctrine (which can have the effect of eroding a right doctrine of the Imageo Dei). Chapter 3 shows how the Christian's union with Christ is central to and essential for our communion with an otherwise unknowable and incomprehensible God. In Chapter 4 Billings explores how a partial recovery of the doctrine of union with Christ formed the basis for some of the steps taken in the church of South Africa helping to kick start the end of Apartheid and how systematic segregation first came about through a racial division at the Lord's Table stemming from a neglect of the doctrine of union. Billings rightly sees this as a functional denial of the doctrine of the unity of the body through union with Christ at the very place which ought to be the most clear demonstration of union with Christ and its implications for the unity of the church. He goes on to show how the liberal church focus on social justice is devoid of its power without a robust belief in union with Christ and conversely he calls the orthodox and conservative to recover this neglected aspect of its own theology in order to restore justice to both thought and way of life. Finally, chapter 5 explores the recent trend to view the incarnation as the model for missional ministry. Billings demonstrates that, while many of the proponents of incarnational ministry are working toward some truly admirable goals and reforming some erroneous practices, when they hold up the incarnation as a pattern, they are doing something that Scripture itself never does. Rather, as the author convincingly shows, it is our union with the crucified and risen and indwelling Christ (by his Spirit) that is the basis and model, as well as the power, for our gospel mission. Not sure if I would agree that there are no implications of the incarnation which the church can look to as exemplar and incorporate into mission, but Billings certainly does put the emphasis in the right place when he points to the cross and resurrection and our resulting "in Christ" status. Again, there are depths that this book does not plumb, and it was not the purpose of this study to go all the way down into the doctrine of union with Christ. Those looking for a deep exegetical exploration or a systematic treatment won't find it here, although both aspects are present and certainly stand behind this work. This study is just right to reintroduce the church to this oft neglected doctrine and to give us a tantalizing taste for the rich fruit that awaits the church that recovers a right theology and reintegrates a right practice of the implications of the union of the church (and the individual Christian) to Christ. I recommend this to pastors, students, well-read laypeople and armchair theologians everywhere.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Cool book, introducing us to theologians of long ago, helping us to understand substantial truth, really fun. The only thing that kept me from rating it 4 stars was the last third of the book, which got all mumbo jumbo, to me. The author seemed to really want to make a point and got too complicated trying to make it. I LOVED the first quarter of the book, that was 5 stars. My quotes below are from that section. This was very enlightening: "In this parable, the day-laborer working in the countrysid Cool book, introducing us to theologians of long ago, helping us to understand substantial truth, really fun. The only thing that kept me from rating it 4 stars was the last third of the book, which got all mumbo jumbo, to me. The author seemed to really want to make a point and got too complicated trying to make it. I LOVED the first quarter of the book, that was 5 stars. My quotes below are from that section. This was very enlightening: "In this parable, the day-laborer working in the countryside recognizes the high and exalted place of the emperor. an occasional encounter with the emperor would be delightful - enough so that the laborer could keep his own comfortable life, keep his friends, keep his identity, yet have it embellished by the honor of the emperor. 'A little favor- that would make sense to the laborer.'" "But what if the emperor wants to make him his own son? The prospect of adoption in this sense is an offense. It is TOO MUCH CLOSENESS- it is the sort of closeness that requires giving up one's own identity. Yes, it is a high and exalted place to be the child of the emperor, the king of the land. But it is too high and exalted- wouldn't he be a laughingstock? Wouldn't he lose all that is precious to him if he were to ascend to be the king's son? In the words of Kierkegard, the day laborer says, "Such a thing is too high for me, I cannot grasp it; to be perfectly blunt, to me it is a piece of folly." It would be wonderful if the king would send him some money or a letter to cherish as a relic. but the king is asking for so much more. The king is asking to be more than an accessory to his identity. The king wants his full identity, his entire life- wants him to be exalted, the child of the king. And so it is with God, the King. Yet adoption by the King is SUCH a radical notion, we resist it. We would rather have the occasional brush with God’s presence, or a relic of his solidarity with us, so that God can be an appendage of OUR identity. By bringing us into the new reality of the Spirit, we can call out to God – Abba, Father – as adopted children united to Christ. Yet there are few things more countercultural than this process of adoption – losing your life for the sake of Jesus Christ, to find it in communion with the Triune God.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kessia Reyne

    Here Billings attempts a "theology of retrieval" with Reformed thinkers of the past, reframing, as the subtitle indicates, theology and mission in the theme of "union with Christ." This idea of union with Christ used to be much more prominent than in modern-day thinking, and reflects the "in Christ" motif prevalent in the New Testament. I appreciated many of Billings' insights, particularly his beautiful exposition of adoption into Christ in the first chapter. His defense of "extensive [total] d Here Billings attempts a "theology of retrieval" with Reformed thinkers of the past, reframing, as the subtitle indicates, theology and mission in the theme of "union with Christ." This idea of union with Christ used to be much more prominent than in modern-day thinking, and reflects the "in Christ" motif prevalent in the New Testament. I appreciated many of Billings' insights, particularly his beautiful exposition of adoption into Christ in the first chapter. His defense of "extensive [total] depravity" did not prevail upon me to convert me from my Arminian thinking, though it did give me a more fair and balanced view of the Calvinist position. For those involved in cross-cultural or youth ministry where the "incarnational ministry" model is so widely lauded, the fifth chapter of this book would be useful and challenging in a good way. While appreciating the goals of incarnational ministry, Billings' challenges it as not-quite-biblical and having some unfortunate consequences. In its place he proposes a "participation in Christ" model that reimagines cross-cultural ministry in a fresh and biblical way.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Robert D. Cornwall

    This is a a Reformed exposition of the doctrine of union with Christ by a professor at Western Theological Seminary in Michigan. Billings seeks to use the image of "union with Christ" as a way of understanding how we as Christians might be engaged with God in the work of redemption, a work that is entirely in the hands of God, but through union Christians can engage in this work of grace. This is a deeply reformed book, rooted in Calvin and Barth. Those in the missional community may want to att This is a a Reformed exposition of the doctrine of union with Christ by a professor at Western Theological Seminary in Michigan. Billings seeks to use the image of "union with Christ" as a way of understanding how we as Christians might be engaged with God in the work of redemption, a work that is entirely in the hands of God, but through union Christians can engage in this work of grace. This is a deeply reformed book, rooted in Calvin and Barth. Those in the missional community may want to attend to his discussion of incarnational ministry, the theology of which he finds lacking, and offers union with Christ as a better alternative -- that is, we cannot truly incarnate God as did Christ. That is a unique revelation of God, and thus theologically the idea of incarnational ministry is found wanting. If, like me, you're not as deeply rooted in Reformed theology this book may not be as helpful, but I think for Reformed types, this may have great value.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Brian Collins

    This is not so much a study of Union with Christ as an application of that that study to various areas of theology and practice. I found especially helpful his critiques of "incarnational ministry" and contextualization." He also includes a helpful discussion that demonstrates that apartheid developed in South Africa not because of orthodox Reformed theology but in the departure from it in an effort to be missional and contextualize the church's ministry. He quotes John de Gruchy: “Despite the f This is not so much a study of Union with Christ as an application of that that study to various areas of theology and practice. I found especially helpful his critiques of "incarnational ministry" and contextualization." He also includes a helpful discussion that demonstrates that apartheid developed in South Africa not because of orthodox Reformed theology but in the departure from it in an effort to be missional and contextualize the church's ministry. He quotes John de Gruchy: “Despite the fact that this development went against earlier synodical decisions that segregation in the church was contrary to the Word of God, it was rationalized on grounds of missiology and practical necessity. Missiologically it was argued that people were best evangelized and best worshipped God in their own language and cultural setting, a position reinforced by German Lutheran missiology and somewhat akin to the church-growth philosophy of our own time.”

  14. 4 out of 5

    Roy Howard

    Billings employs a creative theology of retrieval to address current concerns in the practice of ministry. Union with Christ becomes the focal reality - real participation in living union with the living Christ - that changes the conversation around such topics as incarnational ministry, social justice and the Lord’s Supper, and missional practices. He offers a sharp critique of "Modern Therapeutic Deism" and offers an alternative perspective that brings John Calvin's theology to life in astonis Billings employs a creative theology of retrieval to address current concerns in the practice of ministry. Union with Christ becomes the focal reality - real participation in living union with the living Christ - that changes the conversation around such topics as incarnational ministry, social justice and the Lord’s Supper, and missional practices. He offers a sharp critique of "Modern Therapeutic Deism" and offers an alternative perspective that brings John Calvin's theology to life in astonishingly fresh ways. Originally a set of lectures, these chapters present a subtle and radical recasting of ministry. For those who are interested in the current conversation about the Belhar Confession of South Africa which addressed Apartheid, Billings gives an appreciative critique that is quite helpful.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Travis

    This was a phenomenal book. Billings work on the doctrine of union with Christ is thought provoking and convicting. Throughout this book, he has an emphasis on doing retrieval theology and I think he does this well, by primarily looking at Reformed theologians. I appreciated the chapter in which he put Calvin and Bavinck in conversation with one another. His critique of Incarnational ministry and his solution of Participation ministry was also very helpful. I encourage anyone who desires to delv This was a phenomenal book. Billings work on the doctrine of union with Christ is thought provoking and convicting. Throughout this book, he has an emphasis on doing retrieval theology and I think he does this well, by primarily looking at Reformed theologians. I appreciated the chapter in which he put Calvin and Bavinck in conversation with one another. His critique of Incarnational ministry and his solution of Participation ministry was also very helpful. I encourage anyone who desires to delve deeper into the ecclesiological call of God's people to read this book. You will not be left disappointed.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Peter Bringe

    This was a very good book as far as it went. It explains the Calvinist doctrine of union with Christ and gives a few implications of this doctrine for ministry. This doctrine was central to Calvin's thinking, and central to his conception of our salvation. Justification and sanctification both result from our union with Christ. Union and communion with God through Christ is the other side of the coin to the doctrine that man is enslaved to sin when he is apart from Christ (when he has no communi This was a very good book as far as it went. It explains the Calvinist doctrine of union with Christ and gives a few implications of this doctrine for ministry. This doctrine was central to Calvin's thinking, and central to his conception of our salvation. Justification and sanctification both result from our union with Christ. Union and communion with God through Christ is the other side of the coin to the doctrine that man is enslaved to sin when he is apart from Christ (when he has no communion with God).

  17. 5 out of 5

    Nathan

    Billings has given us a strong example of the fruits of a theology of retrieval. By recovering past theologies from Calvin, Ursinus, Junius, Barth, and the Belhar Confession, he helps the reader view contemporary theological debates with new eyes. In an age that can't hold God's closeness and God's incomprehensibility together, Chapter 3 ("On Communion with the Incomprehensible God") is worth the price of the book alone. Highly recommended! Billings has given us a strong example of the fruits of a theology of retrieval. By recovering past theologies from Calvin, Ursinus, Junius, Barth, and the Belhar Confession, he helps the reader view contemporary theological debates with new eyes. In an age that can't hold God's closeness and God's incomprehensibility together, Chapter 3 ("On Communion with the Incomprehensible God") is worth the price of the book alone. Highly recommended!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kylie Hetherington

    Billings in his theology of retrieval of the great and mysterious doctrine of Union with Christ, not only retrieves a fulsome theology of Union, he liberates Calvin from cliches and challenges some of Western evangelical sacred cows like the notion of incarnational ministry. It is a thought provoking read on the two-fold grace of salvation and sanctification and how that should, according to Billings work it's way into community, justice and ministry. Worth the read! Billings in his theology of retrieval of the great and mysterious doctrine of Union with Christ, not only retrieves a fulsome theology of Union, he liberates Calvin from cliches and challenges some of Western evangelical sacred cows like the notion of incarnational ministry. It is a thought provoking read on the two-fold grace of salvation and sanctification and how that should, according to Billings work it's way into community, justice and ministry. Worth the read!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Anthony Rodriguez

    The first three chapters were terrific reading. Chapter four was surprising in its turn to more practical matters but ultimately very good. I found chapter five overly long and seemed to be a particular issue that probably mattered more to the author than most readers (the terminology of "incarnational ministry"). It was a good point, but took up too much space for such a small book. Overall, I enjoyed this book. I'd actually probably give it 3.5 stars, but why not just round up? The first three chapters were terrific reading. Chapter four was surprising in its turn to more practical matters but ultimately very good. I found chapter five overly long and seemed to be a particular issue that probably mattered more to the author than most readers (the terminology of "incarnational ministry"). It was a good point, but took up too much space for such a small book. Overall, I enjoyed this book. I'd actually probably give it 3.5 stars, but why not just round up?

  20. 4 out of 5

    Zachary

    Excellent book engaging a few prominent ministry models (such as the pervasive Incarnational model) and doctrines (exceptionally good chapter on total depravity and decently solid chapter touching on the Lord's Supper). Definitely more on the academic side, but it would definitely benefit pastors and ministry leaders. In fact, I would challenge most pastors to read, if not at least engage, the concepts therein. Highly recommend it! Excellent book engaging a few prominent ministry models (such as the pervasive Incarnational model) and doctrines (exceptionally good chapter on total depravity and decently solid chapter touching on the Lord's Supper). Definitely more on the academic side, but it would definitely benefit pastors and ministry leaders. In fact, I would challenge most pastors to read, if not at least engage, the concepts therein. Highly recommend it!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    Review forthcoming, as soon as I have access to a keyboard that isn't a phone Here it is: http://www.pres-outlook.org/reviews3/... Review forthcoming, as soon as I have access to a keyboard that isn't a phone Here it is: http://www.pres-outlook.org/reviews3/...

  22. 4 out of 5

    Dennis

    Very deep thinking I read this book as part of a reading group. If I was reading it on my own I would not have finished it. Not by any means that it is poorly written. It is very academic and not a quick read. I will say that I appreciate the author's insights and I found chapter 5 to be my favorite. Very deep thinking I read this book as part of a reading group. If I was reading it on my own I would not have finished it. Not by any means that it is poorly written. It is very academic and not a quick read. I will say that I appreciate the author's insights and I found chapter 5 to be my favorite.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Alex Houston

    Todd Billings covers a subject that should shape the Christian's life, this is a major doctrine that is sadly neglected in much of the Church. Who we are in Christ is an implication of the gospel that needs to be focused on every day. Todd Billings covers a subject that should shape the Christian's life, this is a major doctrine that is sadly neglected in much of the Church. Who we are in Christ is an implication of the gospel that needs to be focused on every day.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Samuel Kassing

    This was a really good read. Dense but rich. I'd probably recommend reading a more accessible book on Union before you sink your teeth into this. Overall this was a great book and my understanding of adoption, mystery and "participation ministry" have been deepened because of it. This was a really good read. Dense but rich. I'd probably recommend reading a more accessible book on Union before you sink your teeth into this. Overall this was a great book and my understanding of adoption, mystery and "participation ministry" have been deepened because of it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Robbyn Abedi

    I'd give it 3.5 stars if an option. A good but not great read on the fullness of Union with Christ. Regardless, a good starting point. I'd give it 3.5 stars if an option. A good but not great read on the fullness of Union with Christ. Regardless, a good starting point.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Hannah Gourley

    started out enjoying it...wandered too far into uninteresting topics

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ben Duncan

    The author wants to "retrieve" a more robust place of union with Christ in the theological formulations of Reformed Christianity. This book is not a bad book, but it is tedious. The author wants to "retrieve" a more robust place of union with Christ in the theological formulations of Reformed Christianity. This book is not a bad book, but it is tedious.

  28. 5 out of 5

    David Luke

    A stimulating read on the theme of union with Christ examining it from a biblical, theological and missiological perspective. A little laboured in places but very provocative.

  29. 5 out of 5

    John

    The subtitle of Todd Billings's "Union with Christ" is "Reframing Theology and Ministry for the Church." Billings stays true to this aim, carefully explaining the doctrine of union with Christ and then unpacking its ministry application. Billings is stronger on the former (unpacking the doctrine) than the latter (landing its ministry application), but I'm grateful that he did the work to apply the doctrine. Billings is not shy about making significant claims about union with Christ. It is not a The subtitle of Todd Billings's "Union with Christ" is "Reframing Theology and Ministry for the Church." Billings stays true to this aim, carefully explaining the doctrine of union with Christ and then unpacking its ministry application. Billings is stronger on the former (unpacking the doctrine) than the latter (landing its ministry application), but I'm grateful that he did the work to apply the doctrine. Billings is not shy about making significant claims about union with Christ. It is not a minor doctrine on the sidelines of Christian faith, but is in fact "theological shorthand for the gospel itself." the most important biblical metaphor for our union with God is God's adoption of us. "For Paul, the adoption metaphor is deeply trinitarian, for it is initiated by the Father, mediated by the Spirit, and grounded in the person and work of Jesus Christ." Adoption is a biblical metaphor that "shows us an astonishing state of affairs: the high King, the Lord of the universe, desires for us to be his adopted children." Through this adopting union, we receive the salvific benefits of God we cannot obtain on our own. We receive sanctification and justification through our union with Christ. "The power of God's salvific action in uniting us to Christ is connected to the utter powerlessness of sinners to save themselves." There are three powerful challenges to this doctrine and its implications today: our autonomy, our discomfort with a God that is too close, and the the polarization of the contemporary church over the choice between the gospel and justice. Billings takes aim at each of these as he works out the doctrine of the union with Christ practically. Human freedom is the highest value in the Western world. As such, Western formations of Christianity tend to shape our own ethics of human flourishing around that commitment. But, Billings argues, our true humanity is not independent from God, but rather found in our union with God. As Christian Smith has argued, contemporary American beliefs could be dubbed "moral therapeutic deism" -- a belief hinging on the distance of a God who wants us to be good and feel better about ourselves. Union with Christ takes on this distorted belief system. As Calvin said about idolatry, it it is not that idolatry makes God too close, it is that it makes God too distant. Understanding the implications of the mystery of our union with Christ means that we have a God who is transcendent and unsearchable and yet simultaneously intimately close in communion with us. Mystery and communion are not at, but held together in the beauty of our union with God. Billings appeals to Calvin’s depiction of God “lisping” or “babbling” to us as a nurse to an infant. This accommodation reveals God’s love for us without diminishing God's power: “Why does a nurse speak baby talk to an infant? … Out of love and a desire for communion and fellowship.” Billings finally turns his attention to the push and pull in the American church between the evangelical church's push toward the gospel and the mainline church's pull toward justice. Billings mediates a response through the eucharist. Justice doesn't flow out of moralism, Billings asserts. Our union with Christ moves us into the life and activity of Christ. Billings uses the Dutch Reformed Church's response to apartheid South Africa through the Belhar Confession to assert that we cannot choose between the two. We must experience union with Christ in order to be compelled to justice. We cannot receive the gospel without being moved forward toward injustice and yet we cannot move forward toward justice out of a mere obligation. The body of Christ is formed through our union with Christ. Our unity is "both a gift and an obligation for the church of Jesus Christ." In trivializing our relationship with Christ, we trivialize its impact on our relationship within the body of Christ. Union with Christ means we do not have to choose between a transcendent or an immanent God. It means we do not have to choose between the gospel and justice. Billings's book is helpful on a number of fronts. I particularly appreciated Billings's clear explanation of the relationship between union with Christ, adoption, justification, and sanctification. I'm also grateful for Billings's critique of moral therapeutic deism and corrective via the the theology of union with Christ. There were several areas of the book that could have been strengthened. The structure of the book itself wasn't very intuitive, at times reading more like a collection of essays than a thread built around a tight thesis. In fact, I didn't include chapter 5 in my review here, where Billings takes on "incarnational ministry." I appreciated Billings's prodding at a fuzzy theology that calls us to make God incarnate in our lives and insistance that the "incarnation of the Word in the person of Jesus Christ is a unique and unrepeatable event." We are those who proclaim Christ, not incarnate him. While having its merits particular chapter didn't appear to naturally flow in the argument of the book. Another potential weakness for the reader is Billings's bent toward historic theology. He spends a fair bit of time giving us a glimpse into some academic debates about Calvin and Bavinck. My hunch is that for the average reader these sections will make the reading bog down a bit. All that said, Billings has given the church a deep, practical book about the reality and implications of our union with Christ that has blessed me spiritually. I believe it will bless you as well.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ben Simmons

    A fascinating look at the concept of union with Christ and how it shapes different areas of the Christian life. You can tell that the chapters were originally separate lectures, but they hang together well. I appreciate how Billings utilizes the concept of union with Christ to question/correct pop-evangelical trends and distortions. His use of other Reformed sources such as Bavinck and Barth (alongside the expected use of Calvin) was also refreshing. Billings does theology within the Reformed tr A fascinating look at the concept of union with Christ and how it shapes different areas of the Christian life. You can tell that the chapters were originally separate lectures, but they hang together well. I appreciate how Billings utilizes the concept of union with Christ to question/correct pop-evangelical trends and distortions. His use of other Reformed sources such as Bavinck and Barth (alongside the expected use of Calvin) was also refreshing. Billings does theology within the Reformed tradition and shows how it still has much to offer the global Christian church.

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