Book Review: Taking on the Cross: Reimagining the Meaning of Jesus’ Life and Death

By Darrell R. Hamilton, II

Taking on the Cross: Reimagining the Meaning of Jesus’ Life and Death is a book that continues in the long legacy of making meaning of suffering and the cross. Western theologians have persisted as the foundational architects for much of the universal understandings of atonement persisting to this current day. However, for marginalized and oppressed communities, these understandings have been found lacking to address their particular experiences as the continuously “crucified” in a context of white supremacy, capitalism, and racism.

Every generation has voices crying out in the wilderness inviting us to reexamine our notions of how God shows up in our world and in our time. Prophetic voices like James Cone, Kelly Brown Douglas, Delores Williams, and Miguel De La Torre have paved the way for this current generation to liberate the Church to see God’s presence and redemptive work in and through the lives of the oppressed. These demands go further by leading the Church to be liberated from god-talk rooted in violence most often poured out on the bodies of African Americans, queer and trans people, women, immigrants, and the poor. 

The essays in this volume continue the prophetic work of reimagination of such beliefs. In a time of global pandemic, war, rising Christian Nationalism, anti-blackness, and attacks on gay and trans youth, the essays in this work are a timely resource. The implications of the cross and atonement are foundational to policy and theological violence we see in both the political square and our institutions of faith, thus it is time to find meaning in the life and death of Jesus that leads toward abundant life for all God’s people.

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