Tim Keller's King's Cross: A Review

My oldest daughter compares Tim Keller to Pixar: when they both release new material, you just know it’s going to be great. Since The Reason for God (2008), Keller and the Redeemer City to City team have produced four eagerly anticipated books. Now they’re launching the Redeemer imprint with King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus.

A narrative of the Gospel according to Mark culled primarily from previous sermons, King’s Cross is

an extended meditation on the historical Christian premise that Jesus’s [sic] life, death, and resurrection form the central event of cosmic and human history as well as the central organizing principle of our own lives….[Its purpose is] to try to show, through his words and actions, how beautifully his life makes sense of ours (p. x).

Keller addresses both the skeptic and faithful—a common trait of his previous work. Evenly divided into two parts, each half consists of nine chapters. Part one, “The King,” discusses Jesus’ identity, reminding readers that, “You are made to enter into a divine dance with the Trinity” (p. 10), while the second part, “The Cross,” discusses Jesus’ purpose. Here Keller’s primary thrust is clear:

All love, all real, life-changing love, is substitutionary sacrifice. You have never loved a broken person, you have never loved a guilty person, you have never loved a hurting person except through substitutionary sacrifice (p. 168).

King’s Cross isn’t an academic treatment of substitutionary atonement—this isn’t Keller’s intent. Instead, he repeatedly confronts the reader with the subject of substitutionary atonement—Jesus Christ. He utilizes Mark’s narrative, woven throughout the book and sprinkled within each chapter, driving its content and pace. Keller engages the reader with astute pastoral application, littered with excellent sermon illustrations, occasionally referencing (even contextualizing) his heroes Jonathan Edwards and C.S.  Lewis:

[Jesus] is both the rest and the storm, both the victim and the wielder of the flaming sword, and you must reject him on the basis of both. Either you’ll have to kill him or you’ll have to crown him. The one thing you can’t do is just say, “What an interesting guy” (p. 162).

King’s Cross finds Keller in familiar territory: producing another great book, leaving readers from atheist to Christian grappling with the nature and implications of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In King’s Cross, prepare to encounter the King of the cross—a King who willingly entered into our ordinary lives so that we too may enter into the “joyful dance of grace” (p. 225).