"The description of the history of atonement thus far has followed
the standard account. Two questions cast additional light on these
images and bring to the fore the violent elements they contain.
First, a nuance appears when we shift from asking about the object
of the death of Jesus to inquire, Who or what needs the death of
For the ransom theory, one might say that the devil
clearly needs the death -- it fulfills God's part of the bargain when
the devil releases the souls of humankind. For the cosmic battle
image, the question makes little sense. For the satisfaction theories,
it is God's honor or God's law that needs the death. Without it, the
debt to God's honor remains unpaid or unsatisfied, or the penalty
required by God's law remains unmet. Finally, for the moral theory,
one might say that "we" -- sinners -- need the death since
that is what enables us to perceive the Father's love shown for
and to us.
A second question shifts the nuance again and produces a much more
controversial answer. Observe what happens when one asks, Who
arranges for or is responsible for the death of Jesus?
most crassly, Who ultimately killed Jesus?"
Mennonite theologian J. Denny Weaver, Violence in Christian Theology