Some people today may find it compelling that some Great Cosmic Transaction took place on that day 1,980 years ago, that God's wrath burned against his son instead of against me. I find that version of atonement theory neither intellectually compelling, spiritually compelling, nor in keeping with the biblical narrative.
Has the word propitiation any place in your Christianity? In the faith of the New Testament it is central. The love of God [1 John 4:8-10], the taking of human form by the Son [Heb. 2:17], the meaning of the cross [Rom. 3:21-26], Christ's heavenly intercession [1 John 2:1-2], the way of salvation--all are to be explained in terms of it, as the passages quoted show, and any explanation from which the thought of propitiation is missing will be incomplete, and indeed actually misleading, by New Testament standards.
In saying this, we swim against the stream of much modern teaching and condemn at a stroke the views of a great number of distinguished church leaders today, but we cannot help that. Paul wrote, "Even if we or an angel from heaven"--let alone a minister, a bishop, college lecturer, university professor, or noted author--"should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! ("accursed" KJV and RSV; "outcast" NEB; "damned" Phillips--Gal. 1:8). And a gospel without propitiation at is heart is another gospel than that which Paul preached. The implications of this must not be evaded.
* Thanks to Justin Taylor