N.T. Wright in his book, The Day the Revolution Began, contends to build a theology of atonement that is as narrow as what we’ve constructed in western Christianity, most theologians have to virtually ignore something significant: the Gospels.
To construct a vision of the atonement, in trying to understand the meaning of Jesus’s death, most theologians build on Paul, not the gospels. Yet… the gospels are where the story of the crucifixion resides.
Wright notes that the four gospels have very little to say about the topic of atonement. No one is talking about “going to heaven.”
When Jesus talks about the “kingdom of heaven,” he doesn’t mean a place called “heaven,” but the rule of “heaven,” that is, God’s reign, coming to birth ON EARTH. Almost nobody in the gospels warns about “going to hell.”
We’ve built a theology of atonement and then tried to fit the story of the crucifixion into that narrative. Wright’s contention is this: we’re ignoring the story itself.
Why DID Jesus have to die? What DID happen on Good Friday?