Jersek’s book is based on the simple premise that God is like Jesus. This should be an uncontroversial assertion for many Christians, but if taken to its logical conclusion and it’s implications spelled out, the idea undoes many assumptions made by Christianity in the West, especially among “Evangelicals.” Jersek’s Christology, his study of Christ, governs his view of atonement, i.e. what God did in the world through Christ. These two should not be different, if Christ was carrying out the mission of God in the world. However, theories like the penal substitutionary theory, describe God’s work in terms of punitive justice, where God pours out God’s wrath on Jesus because of God’s holiness. This punishment is taken out on Christ because of the sins of humanity in order to justify (make right) the wrongs humans. Otherwise, how can a righteous God bear to commune with unrighteous humans. However, the ministry of Jesus does not depict this kind of God, but one who communes with sinful and broken humans, and ministers to them in the places they abide. This is a picture of a God who is self-giving love(the Cross in Jersek’s term) and does not need to right the world through violent punishment of an innocent victim.
The reviews that this is a “dry” work is perplexing. One can easily tell that Jersek’s experience as a pastor contributes to his writing. I have read many an academic work and this is not in the same, wooden style. Instead, it is filled with personal stories and helpful illustrations. However, Jersek’s in depth knowledge of the Patristics and Christian history is clear and is seen in the appendix. Also, his analysis of biblical passages is thorough and seen through the eyes of one who has witnessed Christ’s work in his life, not a lens that is seeks to confirm a particular dogma or orthodoxy. In this way, the implications of Jersek’s work can be seen in church ministry and mission, and not only in teaching. It is not only about ortho-doxy, but also about ortho-praxis, what the church does in the world. To this end, this is value of Jesek’s work. It seeks not to only change hearts and minds, but to help the church become more faithful followers of the crucified and resurrected one.