The crucifixion is a fact of history that was given a theological explanation by followers of Jesus who were so stunned by what happened to their master that they assumed it must have been part of a grand scheme. But what if we don’t make that assumption? What if we don’t need a theological explanation?I believe Dietrich Bonhoeffer would have called that cheap grace. That is our receiving of such grace without acknowledging the death of Christ as the work of redemption cheapens the gift. If redemption is simply God’s love minus his gift of Christ we leave both Abelard and Anselm behind. There is no sacrifice and there is no model of redeeming love. And absurdly we leave a great deal of the New Testament out.
The cross is a human tragedy, like so many tragedies we encounter every day. ... But the really important part of the story is the resurrection. The resurrection gives us hope that nothing—no tragedy, no mistake, no sin—is beyond the redemptive power of God’s love. (Bold the authors)
Yes, it is the power of the resurrection that completes and finishes that gift giving us eternal life in Christ. As Paul put it without the resurrection we would be of all people most miserable. But the great work of redemption is so much more than a theory. It is after all the great theme of all Scripture. The Seed whose heel is bruised while bruising the serpents head, the provision of the ram as a substitute for Isaac, the blood on the door post of the Hebrew slaves in Egypt, the sacrifice of animals on the temple altar, the suffering Servant of Isaiah who “was pierced through for our transgressions” and “was crushed for our iniquities.”
How do you throw out so much Scripture? Paul & Peter agree, “In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished on us.” Eph 1:7-8a) “…knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with the precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” (1 Peter 1: 18-19)
As for Ockham’s atonement, Vest points out that he didn’t have an atonement theory but a philosophical concept called Ockham’s razor which suggested the simplest answer is the best. In philosophical terms it is considered the most elegant answer. That is like the clearest answer or design. But consider, doing away with so much Scripture one has to come up with some very complex theories and strategies so Ockham’s razor does not really fit.
One should end with the new song of the Elders:
Worthy are you to take the book and to break its seals; for you were slain, and purchased for God with your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. (Revelation 5:9)