A spectator's view of the atonement
I was bemused to see a poster on the internet who supports Penal Substitutionary atonement write:
Christus Victor sometimes comes across to me a bit like this - "there was a deadly posionous snake outside your house, but its okay, Jesus killed it for you!" To which the reply from most people is, "Whatever! I wasn't aware of the danger beforehand and now you're telling me that the danger is gone now anyway!"I thought that was a prime instance of the pot calling the kettle black - I have often had the same thought about Penal Substitutionary Atonement. But I think PSA looks even worse when you look at it like this, because it's not a deadly snake that gets killed but rather God kills himself... "there was a deadly God outside your house, but it's okay, he killed himself for you." To which most people are going to not only point out that you're telling them about a danger that is no longer present (like above) and also point out that God sounds pretty deranged.
But anyway, I think the whole "so what?" response that people can have is a fair one to consider. If Jesus simply achieved some good stuff and solved a problem people weren't aware they had in the first place, then naturally they are going to be inclined to respond with "so who cares, why are you bothering to tell me?" Ultimately the relevance of atonement models is rooted in the response they demand upon the person hearing the message, whether that be repentance or good deeds or what, because if Jesus fixed a problem we didn't know we had then that's nice but not necessarily worth knowing about.