At the heart of the Christian story is the life, death, and resurrection of the Son of God. How his followers understand that story is what separates us into the many different expressions of faith that can be found today. The significance of Christ's atonement for sins (the very basis of his name and his mission) is what makes Christianity truly Christian: a religion with Christ at its redemptive center. The way that evangelical Christians have spoken of the atonement has usually centered on Christ's sacrifice for us, a substitution, to satisfy the demands of divine justice, thus making his death a penal substitution. Why have they spoken this way? The overwhelming testimony of Scripture-from the promise of a redeemer for Adam and Eve, through the Jewish sacrifices, the prophetic hopes of a Messiah, the birth narratives of Jesus, and the epistles to the earliest churches-have affirmed that through the death of Christ God's people are put into right relationship with God, sin is forgiven, and new spiritual life is born.
Eric Landry is pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church (Murrieta, California) and executive editor of Modern Reformation.
Issue: "Christless Christianity" May/June 2007 Vol. 16 No. 3 Page number(s): 36-37
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