This is a big one because it gets right to the very heart of the Gospel itself. For evangelicals, the Gospel—the good news for the world—is that Jesus died for your sins so you don’t have to.
When progressive Christians look at the cross, they don’t see a form of blood atonement. For us, the good news is not the satisfaction of divine wrath, but rather the revelation of the Divine Identity. Jesus fully reveals to us that God is love.
This is truly good news for everybody because it means God is not some sort of scary, all-powerful being waiting to catch you doing something wrong (whether you knew it was wrong or not) and put you into hell for it.
Rather, we strongly proclaim that God is love. God is not just out there, but God is also with you. And God is for you. God wants you to experience abundant life—the joy of living—in the here and now.
And it is on the cross that the Divine Identity is most fully revealed. For it is there, amidst those who are actively crucifying Jesus that he says, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do”. This is an incredible, extreme, and inhuman degree of compassion. It is nothing less than divine.
But, we don’t just see this compassion in Jesus’ crucifixion. We see it throughout his entire ministry. He lived and breathed compassion. Marcus Borg has said (and I paraphrase because I seem to have lost the book), “compassion is the holiness of God”.
The spirit of compassion is the Holy Spirit of God that we are all trying to tap into. This especially means compassion toward those who are marginalized—the poor, orphans, and widows of this world. These, too, are human beings, children of God, each and every one.
We believe the spirit of Christ stands especially with the marginalized. For those who have had their voices taken from them, the spirit of Christ speaks. For those who have had their power taken away from them, the spirit of Christ acts. As it was in the gospel stories, so it is today.
So, for progressive Christians, the Gospel isn’t so much found in a blood atonement. Rather, in the ministry and crucifixion of Jesus we see the Divine Identity is fully revealed to us, and that is this: God is love…and God is for you.