For Good Friday, your host posts Pope Benedict XVI’s response to the Atonement deniers, from page 232 of his modern classic Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week: From the Entrance Into Jerusalem to the Resurrection:

Again and again people say: It must be a cruel God who demands infinite atonement. Is this not a notion unworthy of God? Must we not give up the idea of atonement in order to maintain the purity of our image of God? In the use of the term “hilasterion” with reference to Jesus, it becomes evident that the real forgiveness accomplished on the cross functions in exactly the opposite direction. The reality of evil and injustice that disfigures the world and at the same time distorts the image of God — this reality exists, through our sin. It cannot simply be ignored; it must be addressed. But here it is not a case of a cruel God demanding the infinite. It is exactly the opposite: God himself becomes the locus of reconciliation, and in the person of his Son take the suffering upon himself. God himself grants infinite purity to the world. God himself “drinks the cup” of every horror to the dregs and thereby restores justice through the greatness of his love, which, through suffering, transforms the darkness.

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