When I started in Seminary, I thought that I had to believe as so many contemporary evangelical churches do...that Christ died for our sins in substitutionary atonement. As I contemplated the meaning of this idea - sacrifice - I found that it was incompatible with my reading of the bible. I am grateful to find others within all segments of Christianity that share a similar belief - it wasn't about substitutionary atonement...no...it was SO MUCH BIGGER. It was about breaking apart all of the structures of punishment, violence and hate...from the cross to his murderers and even in the depths of HELL, Jesus showed us that we are called to respond in LOVE as the only response to evil, hate and violence. This challenges me EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
From Richard Rohr....
At the core of “substitutionary atonement” is a twisted belief in what has become a form of religious scapegoating. The philosopher René Girard (1923-2015) argued that there is no known civilization on earth or at any time in history that didn’t have some sort of belief in “redemptive violence.”
In one way or another, every culture creates an “other” who is partially or wholly made responsible for our suffering and problems. We subconsciously believe that it is only through punishing or killing this scapegoat that our lives will improve. Scapegoating’s most extreme form, human sacrifice, has existed on every populated continent at various points in history.
Scapegoating is so deeply ingrained in our cultures and psyches that it’s difficult for us to discern it. Jesus came to reveal the lie of redemptive violence.