Jesus, his death on the cross, and his resurrection three days later are central to the Christian faith. Throughout the history of Christianity various atonement theories have arisen such as Christos Victor, Penal Substitution, Ransom, moral influence, etc. Some Christians don’t believe Jesus rose from the dead and that his death was just a sign of corrupt power. In my opinion, none of them fit with what I understand of God.
To try to understand the meaning of the cross I think its important to understand divine Justice. You can check out what I believe about Justice and how that relates to my belief in Universalism here and here.
I have talked to many people about their views on Atonement and I enjoy many of their takes. I think perhaps we may never fully understand the atonement, but I think we can take some stabs on it. I think everyone can agree that Jesus’s death on the cross had a cataclysmic impact on history.
I like what my friend John Chafee says about the atonement. Jesus did not come to change reality, but to show us a more accurate picture of what reality is. Jesus showed us that we are forgiven by God or even better, that there is nothing we could do that changes who God is. He never, does not, and will never need us to ask us forgiveness because we cannot wrong him.
The cross helped humanity get past the belief that they needed to give God sacrifices and that he could not be anywhere where there was sin. I do believe that Jesus rose from the dead. I believe it because if it was false, it would be one of the biggest conspiracies in history. I also don’t believe that his disciples and so many Christians would suffer and die in his name if he did not come back. From my understanding of quantum science and energy, I do not see that his resurrection contradicts science or physical reality.
I believe that Jesus showed us through the resurrection that at the core we are spirit and that life continues after physical death. Jesus had a special purpose to come back in spirit body and complete his work. But he was no more the son of God than we are sons and daughters of God.
Finally, I believe Jesus’s death and resurrection gave us a more accurate image of God and his love for us. He led the way to our understanding that God resides inside of us and we can have an intimate, personal relationship with him. At the core, we are good, we are divine. We will all be reconciled with God.