Insightful account of how a fresh understanding of the resurrection of Jesus can radically alter the way Christians understand death, judgment, and the final `end of the world as we know it'. Drawing on the theories of René Girard, Alison challenges the assumption that a capricious God somehow requires the sacrificial death of Jesus as victim, supposedly to appease a legitimate godly wrath. This, says Alison, is not what God is 'about' at all, and throughout the book he challenges us to imagine how life shorn of this inadequate view of the almighty might look.
In his life, death and resurrection, Jesus' free self-giving of himself (particularly as seen in John's Gospel) unmasks and annuls the system of `murderous mendacity' which the world, and the world's religiosity, imagine is what God wants of us (45). In the resurrection, a God pruned of violence exposes this system for what it is, and is perceived afresh as brilliantly alive and `without reference to death' (42). But this living in full awareness of the life and love of God isn't meant to be cosy. While it means ditching apocalyptic views of judgment on the world (because God's judgment - in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus - has already come), it does mean working at the patient, long-haul construction of the coming Kingdom, already inaugurated by what Jesus did and the way he lived.
This is a well-written but theologically dense work, and I needed some persistence to get through it. But it's not all Girardian theorizing: there's some really absorbing reflection on the Gospels, and thoughtful analysis of the implications for us. Overall, well worth the effort.