The example theory of the atonement is a position that the death of Christ was not necessary in atoning for sin because the one who breaks the law of God does not need to be punished. Therefore, the sacrifice of Christ was an example of obedience that should move people to repent of their sins and live like Christ.
The example theory is wrong because it denies that the wrath of God must be removed (1 John 2:2) and that Christ's atonement was substitutionary (Isaiah 53:4-6, 2 Cor. 5:21, 1 Peter 2:24). The atonement of Christ was not merely an example. It was a necessary means by which we are redeemed. For without it, there can be no forgiveness of sins (Heb. 9:22).