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Why did Christ have to die such a terrible death on the cross? Was there no other way? Why was there need for a divine substitute? This book explores the very heart of the Christian Gospel - that Christ died in the place of sinners, bearing their sin and guilt and the just and holy punishment that they deserved from God. The doctrine of the atonement has become the subject of intense debate; this book shows that the understanding of the death of Christ as a work of penal substitution is the principal way - though not the only way - in which the Bible views the death of Christ, and that this has been taught at every period in the history of the church.