Reviewed by: Jeremiah Dickinson
Date posted: 09/06/2020
Living in Union with Christ: Paul’s Gospel and Christian Moral Identity, by Grant Macaskill. Baker Academic, 2019. Hardcover, 176 pages, $24.99. Reviewed by OP member Jeremiah Dickinson.
Who, or what, defines my identity? We are naturally curved inward and look to ourselves to answer that question, and this problem doesn’t go away for the Christian. But from beginning to end, Jesus is the “defining reality” for the believer, and that is very good news (145). In Living in Union with Christ, Grant Macaskill offers a much-needed account of the believer’s union with Christ, and the hope we have in him.
The main argument of the book is that “talk of the Christian moral life must begin and end with Paul’s statement, ‘It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me’” (1). Macaskill looks closely at key New Testament texts that speak of our identity in Christ and applies them to our contemporary questions and issues.
Chapter 1 places the discussion in its historical and theological context. Chapters 2–6, the substance of the argument, focus on Galatians and Philippians, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, the war between the flesh and the Spirit, and our future hope.
Chapter 7 brings all the strands together in application. It is practical theology at its best. The reader will especially appreciate and be challenged by the conclusions drawn in chapter 7, supported by the close reading of the text in the previous chapters.
This book will be helpful for pastors, students, and all those who lead and teach in any capacity, but it will also prove beneficial to any believer who seeks to dive deeply into the text of Scripture. Macaskill writes with pastoral care and wisdom. He centers our gaze on the gospel of Jesus Christ, who is our hope. In the author’s words, “The possibilities of our lives are limited not by our own natural capacity for goodness and love but by the perfections and prospects constituted by this other person, Jesus Christ. Thanks be to God” (vii).
Thanks be to God, indeed.