The post-modern society is so focussed on the internal life of the individual that it makes the significance of the cross a difficult concept to grasp. Even Christians are trying to find alternative ways of explaining it - some have abandoned the concept of atonement entirely.
Jesus, though, is far more than a victim. When God receives and approves the condemned Jesus he transcends the world of oppressor and victim to create a new humanity, capable of new kinds of relationships. Atonement speaks of a transition from brokenness, alienation and the death of love to a place of restoration, healing, and wholeness. A place that holds out hope for deepening friendships and mutual confidence - the exact same things the post-modern mind is lacking, and is looking for.
Paul Wells is adjunct dean of the Faculté Jean Calvin in Aix-en- Provence France and editor of La Revue réformée. After working in France as a theological educator for many years, he now lives in Sussex and is also a director of the Greenwich school of theology.