As we approach Good Friday, a few questions come to the forefront: Why did Jesus die? What did His death accomplish?
These are serious questions with rich responses throughout Church history. It is easy for us as Protestants to only emphasize "penal substitution"-- that Jesus died to take the punishment of a holy God for our sins-- and not speak of anything else. But an atonement view like "Christus Victor", which emphasizes Jesus' triumph of Evil at the cross, resonates well with many passages in the New Testament. It may be helpful, as this video suggests, to think of the many respected, historically orthodox atonement views as shards of colored glass in a stained-glass window. To insist on only looking through one piece or one color may skew the whole picture. But to be willing to step back and try to hold the different views together allows us to see the breath-taking grace of God at work in Christ's death on the cross.
This 9-minute clip from N. T. Wright is a careful response to an often-heated debate on "which atonement view is right." It is important to remember that the Church is not made up of Protestants alone, but also of Catholics and Eastern Orthodox believers. The Nicene Creed, which unites all Christians, speak of how Christ came down from heaven "for us and for our salvation." May we see a broad and beautiful picture of it this Easter.