For centuries, the theological world has framed the discussion of Jesus’ atoning work on the cross in judicial terms, arguing that transgression requires punishment in order for God to be ‘satisfied.’ As a result, Jesus is often portrayed by some as the victim of a
petulant father for whom balancing the celestial scales of justice is the overriding concern. While acknowledging that centuries of theological heavyweights have endorsed, propagated, and even expanded some form of this theory (known as the Penal Substitution Theory of the atonement), this dissertation will show there is another approach to the cross and resurrection that is more rational, more relational, and more hopeful while remaining scripturally sound.
Section 1 states the problem and traces the history and development of atonement thinking in order to determine how we arrived at our current understanding. In Section 2, the works of other scholars reveal how they have wrestled with this most essential issue.
Section 3 establishes the critical biblical and theological basis for my argument. Section 4 presents the arguments for what is believed to be a kinder, gentler, and yet biblically faithful explanation of Christ’s atoning work. Then, Section 5 reviews the different methods of research available and zeroes in on the methodology actually employed. Section 6 discusses the media piece which, for this project, is a book entitled For God So Loved … Finally, Section 7 is simply entitled ‘Postscript.’ It summarizes the lessons learned from my research and suggests how they might best be utilized in accurately and sensitively sharing eternity’s greatest story.