To summarize traditional thinking on the crucifixion:
Jesus died on the cross to save human beings from their sins.
God is a just God who would have had to punish us for our sins unless he sent Jesus.
But God is also a gracious God, and Jesus stepped in and took the punishment for us,
sacrificing himself and thereby atoning for our sins.

If we believe in Jesus, we’ll be spared eternal damnation and go to heaven when we die to be with him.
Nuechterlein calls it the “turn or burn” message, and he says it can be traced historically
to the atonement theology of Saint Anselm, who lived in the 11th and early 12th centuries.

Paul Nuechterlein and others in the world of emergent theology hold a different view that “flips atonement upside down,”
“Christ came to end that sacrificial logic (that God required a sacrifice for our sins), which was common at the time.
It’s not God but we who are wrathful and punishing. God offered a lamb so we might see (our) sin
and accept God’s alternative, which is goodness and grace and mercy.”

Jesus, as the lamb of God, intentionally walks into “ our engines of punishment”
and shows us that “God is love, that God is not about violence at all,”
“When John says God is love, he doesn’t say, ‘And sometimes wrath and anger.’

Abbot Andrew Marr in this year’s Easter newsletter of St. Gregory’s Abbey wrote:
“The Gospel record and the apostolic preaching in Acts suggest that Jesus’ death says
a lot more about human beings than it does about God.
... Jesus did not come to die; he came to give life and to give it abundantly.”

So what does Nuechterlein make of those Old Testament stories that refer to an angry God?
Essentially, those stories reflect a limited understanding of God and project human flaws onto God.
The Exodus story, for example, has God slaughtering the firstborn children in Egypt through a plague.
“You could compare that to saying the earthquake in Haiti is punishment from God
 for the Haitian people selling their soul to the devil centuries ago,” 
In others cases, people misinterpret or miss the point of an Old Testament story,
 Nuechterlein says, as with the account of Abraham going up a mountain to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac. 
“In Hebrew, the god who asks Abraham to do that is Elohim, and that’s the garden variety word for god,” 
Nuechterlein says. “The one who stops him is the angel of Yahweh. 
The true God is stopping us from following the old god who demands sacrifice.
“That is not what the true God is about. 
All of the prophets say God doesn’t want this. 
God wants justice and mercy.”

“Here’s how I look at the Bible,” he says. “... 
“The point of scripture is to take this journey where God helps us learn who God truly is.”
Nuechterlein says he has a problem with the Reformation concept of justification by faith
 — the idea that one gains salvation and eternal life by believing in Jesus rather than by doing good works. 
For Nuechterlein, it’s neither belief nor good works that bring salvation.
 “(The apostle) Paul’s message is unconditional grace. 
It’s not about my belief, but about Jesus’ faithfulness. 
God in Jesus Christ has a rescue mission. 
God sends Jesus to unconditionally save us from the powers of sin and death. ... 

Biblical language about judgment and hell, in Nuechterlein’s view,
is about the consequences of our sin. 
“When Jesus says, ‘Those who live by the sword die by the sword,’
 he’s saying that violence and accusation and punishment bring their own REWARD,” Nuechterlein says.


The kingdom of God is on earth now, but it will progressively resemble God’s kingdom in heaven
 as Christians understand their true mission, which is to make this world a better place for all. 
The emerging movement sees itself as a wakeup call to those who would follow Jesus. 
It is our task to bring the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven by 
aggressively challenging injustice, fighting poverty, aiding the sick, 
working on ecological concerns and, in general, saving this planet and everything on it.
 Emergent leaders believe that people are catching on to this new vision of the kingdom,
 and as a result, are optimistic about the future.

No doomsday tribulation period is on their radar screen nor is Jesus coming in judgment upon the wicked.  
The kingdom, while already here, will progressively become like heaven
 as we attend to the social ills and needs around us. 
Tomorrow looks bright and the day after that looks brighter still. 

The established churches, resistant t change, find the Emergent ideas unacceptable.
Resting on Biblical evidence they reject the bulk of such theology.