I will take the risk of putting forth a theory here. It seems likely to me that whenever and wherever and to the extent that the objective view of the atonement (viz., that the death of Christ reconciled God to the world as much as the world to God) diminishes, the cross will diminish in importance for worship and piety. A subjective theory of the atonement will not do; it cannot sustain long term, profound commitment to the gospel of the death of Jesus Christ as our salvation.
Some contemporary Christians, including some evangelicals, worry that the preaching of the cross in any traditional sense (viz., objective) risks sanctioning child abuse. That seems to me to be utter nonsense because it completely ignores the Trinity in the background of objective atonement. No theologian defending objective atonement has ever regarded the atonement as anything other than God the Son’s voluntary suffering and death. Even Anselm’s Satisfaction Theory and the Puritans’ Penal Substitution Theories pictured it that way and NOT as God simply taking out his anger on an innocent person against his will.
On this Good Friday I call on evangelicals especially to return to their roots and rediscover the good news of the cross as God’s way of reconciling himself to a sinful, rebellious world as well as God’s way of drawing us to himself.
Amen! I've mentioned before my experience with the loss of the cross. It truly is central to Christianity; without it, there is no atonement. Of course, we can't stop there; we need the resurrection too! But, you can't get to the resurrection without going to the cross first. And on that cross, you and I died with Christ that we might live with him. No cross, no resurrection. No resurrection, no deliverance from the power of sin—let me emphasize here that I'm talking about deliverance; not just forgiveness!