Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, writes in his book, The Reason for God, that people ask far more frequently, “Why would Jesus have to die? Why couldn’t God just forgive us?” than they ask, “Does God exist?”
Clearly most people know there is a God. The question is what is this God like? Why is the cross central to Christian faith? Sadly, a PCUSA panel survey in 2008 found that “members are divided about the necessity of belief in Christ for salvation.” The panel reported that only 39 percent of members believe that “only followers of Jesus Christ can be saved.” Only a startling 35 percent of pastors agree that only followers of Christ can be saved.
Those who believe that faith in Christ is not essential for salvation then clearly also believe that the cross is optional. Presbyterian pastor John Vest at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago makes clear in his recent blog that he just “doesn’t find this story [the atonement] very compelling anymore.” And in 1993 Re-Imagining attendees, including many PCUSA staffers, worshiped Sophia and applauded the comment, “I don’t think we need folks hanging on crosses and blood dripping and weird stuff.”
Why did Jesus have to die?
Scripture tells us, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8, NIV).
How do we know that God loves us? Some people might say, “Well, I see the sunset and know God loves me.” Yes. But there are also hurricanes, earthquakes, and tornadoes. Are the people who experience these to conclude that God does not love them? Is the reality of God’s love based on my experience of pleasure at the moment?
Read more at http://www.theologymatters.com/.