the pre-school theory of the atonement
The means of Christ's atonement was not an issue decided by the early church in a creed, so we are left to view it from it's many angles. Here is my analogous contribution.
I sometimes think of God, metaphorically, as a teacher in a pre-school orphanage. Some of the three year olds are rotten, and some are nice, and some are trying to be helpful. Some in the class want to please Him and some want to please themselves. Some are beating on other kids. Some are mixing the water colors and making them all brown. But He has a plan. He'll pull the fighters apart. He'll play follow the leader with them. He'll hang high their works of art done in brown water colors. He'll put stickers on their shirts. All of them think they have the key to his heart because He loves on each of them so well. One year, he enrolls his own Son to the pre-school. Coming from the teacher's home, the Son knows all about the Father's ways and His love. His dad has sent his Son to school as a role model and as an ambassador to these kids to let them know He wants to adopt them all and make them part of His family, so they can come home with Him after school, and not have to stay in the orphanage. But some kids have become masters in the orphanage. They don't want to lose what they built, despite it existing in a foul orphanage run by a cruel manager. They decide they need to silence the Son by beating him up badly. But the Father brings Him home and heals Him and brings his Son back to school, to prove how loving he is as a Father.
This orphanage is not our home.