The cross is the defining symbol of the Christian faith. Yet the Roman cross was first and foremost an instrument of cruel, shameful and violent execution. Early Christians quickly recognized the atoning significance of the cross of Christ, and it resonated deeply with their experience of salvation. But the cross remained a blessing framed by scandal, an epochal and yet mysterious event irreducible to a single formulation.
As Joel Green and Mark Baker demonstrate, the New Testament displays a rich array of interpretations of the cross. These were shaped by the church in mission as it rooted the saving story of a scandalous cross in the language of everyday realities and relationships. But for many Christians today, not only has the true scandal of the cross been obscured, the variety of its New Testament interpretations have been reduced to subpoints in a single, controlling view of the atonement. Tragically, the way in which the atonement is frequently and popularly expressed now poses a new scandal, one that is foreign to the New Testament and poses needless obstacles to twenty-first century peoples and cultures.
At the heart of this book is a challenge for us to view afresh the variety of contextual understandings of the death of Christ in the New Testament and to reconsider how we can faithfully communicate with fresh models the atoning significance of the cross for specific contexts today. The authors explore how the atonement has been understood within a variety of contemporary contexts--both Western and non-Western--and show how we can enter into the thoroughly Christian mission of restating the saving scandal of the cross in our multicultural world of the twenty-first century.