In 2002 I offered a paper for a workshop at the annual meeting of the Evangelical Ministries to New Religions entitled “The Cross: New Religions, New Theologies and the Only Difference in a Pluralistic Society.” Since that time new books and differing theologians have emerged pushing the idea that Jesus’ death on the cross if instigated by the Father would be child abuse.
One book I recently wrote a review of “Gathering Those Driven Away: A Theology of Incarnation,” among its many heresies, defames the atonement of Christ. Another book not nearly so problematic yet still with problems is “Love, Violence, and the Cross: How the Nonviolent God Saves Us through the Cross of Christ.” The former book is published by the Westminster John Knox Press, a publishing arm of the PC (U.S.A.).
The problems are immense. I am posting in parts my essay, with the reminder that it was written in 2002.
The Cross: New Religions, New Theologies and the Only Difference in a Pluralistic Society.
Recently, in her address to the 2002 Covenant Conference,[*] Anna Case-Winters, Professor of Theology at McCormick Theological Seminary, suggests that for our atonement, “‘The incarnation’ would be enough!” She also advocates for the theological position of Abelard, the medieval scholastic who held a position of atonement referred to as moral influence or example. That is, the death of Christ on the cross becomes an example of the willingness to suffer for others and for that reason Jesus Christ is followed and loved. 
Other proponents of this view of the cross and salvation were Socinus, a sixteenth century theologian who also denied the Trinity, and Friedrich Schleiermacher the father of nineteenth century liberal theology. Pelagius is seen as an early anticipation of this view, since he believed humanity capable of living up to God’s requirements of holiness. At present, some contemporary theologians are attempting to get rid of the meaning of the cross in far more radical ways. Delores S. Williams, Associate Professor of Theology and Culture at Union Theological Seminary, in her book, Sisters in the Wilderness: the Challenge of Womanist God-Talk, writes, “People do not have to attach sacred validation to a bloody cross in order to be redeemed or to be Christians.”
Going further, Carter Heyward, Professor of Theology at Episcopal Divinity School, pictures atonement on the cross as a feature of a violent aspect of patriarchal Christianity. She writes:
The deity we must reject is the one whose power over us is imagined to be his love, the god who morally can destroy us. Such a concept of deity is evil—a betrayal itself of our power in mutual relation—in a world being torn to pieces by violence done in the names of gods who demand blood sacrifice. Such god-images feed twisted psychospiritualities that normalize sadistic and masochistic dynamics, rape and intimate violence, abuse of children, relationships of domination and control, violence against people and all creatures, and wars justified as holy.
Contrary to these distorted views of the cross and atonement I wish to hold up the orthodox view and show how it is in reality the central difference in a world of diverse religions both old and new. My central theme is that Christ’s atonement on the cross is the place where evil is expelled from religious belief; that where the cross is emphasized in its true biblical meaning there is true transformation.
I also want to emphasize that all religions, including Christianity, hold within their traditions the seeds of evil. Where the cross loses its meaning there Christianity itself stands in danger of being overcome by the evil within humanity. I will begin by examining the biblical and historical views of atonement. I will look at the potential for evil in religion including Christianity and explain the importance of the cross in addressing the new religions and the new theologies of our time.
Anna Case-Winters, “Who Do You Say That I Am? Believing In Jesus Christ in the 21st Century,” Address to the 2002 Covenant Conference, November 9, 2002, http://covnetpres.org/2002/11/who-do-you-say-that-i-am/
For information on Socinus see: I. Breward, “Socinus and Socinianism,” New Dictionary of Theology, The Master Reference Collection, editors Sinclair B. Ferguson, et al, (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press 1988) 649.