Images of Salvation in the New Testament
By Brenda B. Colijn, IVP Academic, 2010, 335pp., ISBN 978-0-8308-3872-1 (paper).
What does salvation look like in the New Testament? Brenda B. Colijn seeks to answer this question in her book, Images of Salvation in the New Testament. Colijn is a professor of biblical interpretation and theology at Ashland Theological Seminary in Ashland, Ohio. She is an ordained minister and theologian in the Anabaptist/Brethren tradition.
Colijn asserts that “the New Testament does not develop a systematic doctrine of salvation. Instead, it presents us with a variety of pictures taken from different perspectives…” (13-14). Colijn thinks that the images in the New Testament are pictures of salvation that make the different perspectives of salvation in the New Testament more “vivid and arresting” (19). It would also make it more concrete which make the different pictures of salvation easier to understand. Some of these images that the New Testament presents are: covenant, citizenship, deliverance, justification, sanctification, glorification and others. The way the author unpacks these images show that many Christian traditions fall short of the New Testament teaching on salvation. For example, Colijn asserts that salvation is not a “transaction that is completed at conversion” (64). Instead, it is a life-long commitment to follow Jesus Christ in obedience. This idea is a problem for many evangelicals who put their complete focus on this initial conversion experience and forget that salvation is much more than signing a card or asking Jesus to come into their heart. Another weakness of modern Protestants is an extreme emphasis on individualism. Our author states that “Western Christians typically think of salvation in individual terms” (139). This is not the perspective of the New Testament. It thinks of salvation in communal terms. Paul calls Christians “the body of Christ.” Colijn argues that “people are not saved in isolation but are saved into the church” (139).
Images of Salvation is a well-written book. Colijn shows that by studying the images of salvation in the New Testament, we will have a more accurate view of salvation. Salvation is a life-long following of Jesus Christ. As we follow Jesus Christ in obedience, we will be conformed into the image of Christ.