Jesus died for our sins. On that much Christians agree. But ask what it means to say he died for our sins, and deep fissures of disagreement quickly emerge. If you ever want a capsule summary of how deeply entrenched the current debate is, you need look no further than this tweet from Brian Zahnd:
According to Zahnd, the temple sacrificial system was a mistake, a “projection of primitive religion”. In fact, God repudiates blood sacrifice, and the atonement illustrates that fact.
Needless to say, this view is diametrically opposed to the view familiar to most evangelicals (and much of the wider Christian tradition), according to which the temple sacrificial system was providential and anticipatory of the once for all sacrifice of Jesus.
So that’s the disagreement: does the atonement constitute the rejection of the temple sacrificial system … or its fulfillment?