Dr. Gary West, the pastor of Grace Church right here in Statesville NC, is currently exploring atonement theories over at his blog.
Why did Jesus die on the cross? However understood, there has typically been the idea that Jesus' death was necessary for us to attain salvation.....to get right with God, to escape hell, to gain entrance to heaven.......whatever. It is as though the sole purpose for Jesus being born was so he could die...
He goes on to write...
I do believe that somehow we must reckon with the matter of the cross and Jesus' death on one. But did that cruel act make it possible for us to be whole and approved by God? Is God's anger toward our sin so great that it took a crucifixion to satisfy God?... [READ THE WHOLE POST HERE]
Gary is going to take the next few weeks to explore a theory of atonement each time he writes, and then he will ask for some feedback from his readers. I know Gary, and we have had several theological discussions, so I know a little bit about where he is coming from. Extremely intelligent guy. I think this little series is going to be interesting.
I love how Gary ends the post by urging his readers to keep one thing in mind when discussing the cross... "What is the character of your God?"
I think that is a good question to keep in mind.
And I hope, as Gary does, that good conversation will be had about one of the more central/controversial "doctrines" within Christianity.
And while you are over there, be sure to check out other things Gary has written.