In other words, does it really change people? And if so, how?
Do people become more loving? More forgiving? More committed to working for justice (distributive justice--not retributive justice) in the world? Are they better neighbors? Automatically? Over time? By reciting some creedal statement?
These are the opening questions in Scot McKnight's book: A Community Called Atonement.
Some friends are discussing it on Josh Kleinfeld's blog (join the discussion here.).
Here's a great quote from the first chapter that I couldn't agree with more.
"I teach a generation of students that believes the credibility of the Christian faith is determined by claiming a confident (if humble) "Yes!" to each of those questions. This generation is tired of an old-fashioned atonement that does not make a difference, of an old-fashioned atonement theology that is for individual spiritual formation but not for ecclesial re-formation, and of an old-fashioned atonement theology that does not reconcile humans with humans...They believe atonement ought to make a difference in the here and now. Christians, they say, aren't perfect but they ought to be different--at least they ought to be if the atonement
I'm excited about the discussion.