Oddkin's Thoughts

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Why did Jesus have to die? Ask a Christian this question, and the answer you’re most likely to get is a short one: “Jesus died for our sins.”

Ask what this means, and you’re likely to hear something like, “Jesus died to take the punishment we deserve for our sins. Now that our debt has been paid, our sins can be forgiven, and we can be reconciled to God and go to heaven when we die.”

In theological terms, this is called the substitutionary atonement. It’s the most common understanding of Jesus’ death among American Christians, and has been for quite a while.

It may come as a surprise to many, therefore, to learn that this isn’t the only view of Jesus’ death that the church has taught, or even the most prominent one in the Bible!

In fact, the most common understanding of Jesus’ death in the early…

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