Healing Toxic Faith: Did Jesus die to save us from God?

Healing Toxic Faith 1
Why did Jesus have to die? Was it to appease a wrathful God’s demand for punishment? Does that mean Jesus died to save us from God? How could someone ever truly love or trust a God like that? How can that ever be called “Good News”? It’s questions like these that make so many people want to have nothing to do with Christianity.

Countless people filling our pews have adopted this hurtful view of God and themselves. It has led many to internalize feelings of shame and self-loathing, thinking this is what God desires. Others have lost their faith entirely because of it, unable to worship a God who seems to them to be a moral monster. Faith motivated by fear, threat, and feelings of worthlessness. How could things have gone so wrong? When did the good news become bad news?

Behind all of this lies an understanding of the cross rooted in retributive justice known as penal substitution. Simply put: in this theory of the atonement Jesus is punished (penal) instead of us (substitution). Penal substitution is, without question, the most widespread theory of the atonement today. So much so, that many people do not think of it as a theory at all, but simply as “what the Bible says.”

Consequently, in an effort to be true to the teachings of the Bible, many Christians struggle to believe in penal substitution, even though it seems wrong and hurtful to them. We hate it, but think this is what God wants us to believe.

In my new book Healing the Gospel: A Radical Vision for Grace, Justice, and the Cross I propose an alternative: The book takes a deep look at Scripture and makes the case that the above view is neither representative of Jesus and his teachings, nor is it reflective of the New Testament. Rather, it is the result of people projecting their worldly understanding of punitive justice onto the biblical text.

Also by Derek: What Does Jesus Think About Homosexuality?

It wasn’t always that way of course. For the first thousand years, the work of Christ was understood primarily in terms of God’s act of healing people, and liberating them from the bonds of sin and death. This understanding of the atonement is known as Christus Victor. But gradually there was a shift towards a legal focus, and with it a focus on violent punishment. The message was flipped on its head: instead of the crucifixion being seen as an act of grave injustice (as it is portrayed in all four Gospels), there was a shift towards the claim that God had demanded the death of Jesus to quench his anger. Not coincidentally, this coincided with increased violence perpetrated by the church, and it went downhill from there.

Here’s a simple rule of thumb: if your theory of the cross completely contradicts everything Jesus stood for and taught… it’s probably wrong. It’s sad that I need to say this, but the gospel is rooted in love of enemies, not in retribution. Retribution is the opposite of forgiveness. So the idea that the entire work of Jesus was to fulfill the demands of retribution is simply absurd. It’s high time we went back to the focus of Jesus, which was not on violent demands for so-called justice, but on restoring broken lives, and showing enemy love. That’s what the cross is really about.

However, centuries of reading the assumptions of punitive justice into the Bible won’t be easy for us to shake off. It’s become so ingrained, so indoctrinated into our religious imagination that it seems almost self-evident to us now. Therefore, we will need to take a fresh look at Scripture in order to recognize that the model of restorative justice is indeed at the heart of the biblical narrative.

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Also by Derek: How Does a Red-Letter Christian Read the Bible?

That is, of course, a task far too big for a single blog post, but one I take on in detail in Healing the Gospel. The book challenges the assumption that the Christian understanding of justice is rooted in a demand for violent punishment, and instead offers a radically different understanding of the gospel based on God’s restorative justice–showing how we have projected our cultural assumptions of punitive justice onto the Bible, and digging in deep to uncover a radical vision of the gospel that exposes violence, rather than supporting it.

Because Healing the Gospel takes on such a major doctrine, it is sure to ruffle some feathers. But I don’t really care. I’m not writing for those people anyway. I’m writing for the many people who have been hurt by this doctrine, and who want to find a better way.

To them I say: You don’t need to accept an understanding of the cross that seems hurtful and unjust because “the Bible says so” because guess what? The Bible doesn’t say this at all. You don’t have to adopt a schizophrenic view that pits God against Jesus. You don’t need to accept a doctrine that flies in the face of the grace and love you have experienced. There is a better way: one that is both fully in line with the teachings of Jesus and the New Testament, and at the same time grace-focused and life-giving. That really is good news.


Derek Flood is the author of Healing the Gospel: A Radical Vision for Grace, Justice, and the Cross. He is a featured blogger for the Huffington Post, Sojourners, Red Letter Christians, and writes regularly at his website theRebelGod.com. A longtime voice in the post-conservative evangelical movement, Derek’s focus is on wrestling with questions of faith and doubt, violence in the Bible, relational theology, and understanding the cross from the perspective of grace and restorative justice.

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About the Author

Derek FloodDerek Flood is the author of Healing the Gospel: A Radical Vision for Grace, Justice, and the Cross. He is a featured blogger for the Huffington Post, Sojourners, Red Letter Christians, and writes regularly at his website theRebelGod.com. A longtime voice in the post-conservative evangelical movement, Derek’s focus is on wrestling with questions of faith and doubt, violence in the Bible, relational theology, and understanding the cross from the perspective of grace and restorative justice.View all posts by Derek Flood →

  • Matt

    Great article, Derek. This is an issue that is close to my heart. I fear that the theory of penal substitution has made popular a view of God that is rather disturbing to me. The ramifications of this belief can be seen throughout the Christian community today.

  • http://www.facebook.com/vicki.kendall2 Vicki Kendall

    The Eastern Orthodox church has never abandoned the Christus Victor teaching, 2000 years constant.

  • Anonymous

    Here’s something I wrote today about the cross as it relates to the question of Christian masculinity: “Instead of finding the power of the cross in God’s self-sacrifice, [the Christian neo-masculinists] want it to represent God’s sadism, forgetting that Jesus is the ultimate revelation of the Father as opposed to a completely different lesser deity whom the Father pours His wrath over. Jesus’ cross does not show us how God the Father crucifies God the Son as a bold expression of His manhood (like Keyser Soze in The Usual Suspects murdering his own children). It shows us rather that God the Father allowed Himself to be emasculated by His own people when they crucified His Son in front of Him.” http://morganguyton.wordpress.com/2012/09/10/chuck-degroat-on-men-without-fear/

  • Jeff

    The main problem with the viewpoint that you espouse here and in your work, Derek, is fundamental. There is simply no happy-happy, 21st century, PC way to make the cross either safe or sanitary. Period. The cross is the centerpiece of the Christian faith. It is an offense, a stumbling block and foolishness all wrapped up in one.
    I believe that you are unjustly critiquing God the Father as a type of bloodthirsty avenger who must be quenched – rather than as the holy God that he is- and only by vanquishing Jesus, meek and mild, can he be made so. Also, you are also viewing Jesus in the lens of being just what I stated earlier: meek and mild. He was and is anything but. Is Jesus love? You better believe it. But, believe this also, so too is the Father.
    Jesus truly suffered. He felt the abandonment that our sin would give us before the Father – Mk. 15:34. He truly paid the price for all of those who would believe in him. His life was given as a ransom for many.
    Does this sound hurtful and unjust? On one level, you could say yes. That would be a proper reaction. Why? Because the sacrifice that Jesus gave as the final passover lamb WAS hurtful. It was unjust. Jesus was free from sin. Spotless. Therefore, he was the perfect atonement for our sins.
    Finally, what about this sounds hurtful and unjust? “But now, apart from the law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom. 3:21-26, NRSV). You see, the only thing that is hurtful here is our sin. The only thing that is unjust is that Jesus redeemed us so that we could receive the gift of grace from God the Father. Call me a fool for believing this and preaching this, if you will. I will gladly stand for this until my dying breath. Why? It’s not because I, too am bloodthirsty. It is because I had a debt that I could never repay. I am sinner simply saved by grace through faith in the atoning gift of Jesus Christ.
    I appreciate that you are attempting to heal hurts and to ameliorate pains, I really do. However, you cannot gloss over the atrocity of the cross. If this is disturbing to you or anyone else, so be it. We can never forget that Jesus became a curse for our sake, in order to redeem us from the curse which was the law (Gal. 3:13). What is hurtful and unjust about that?

    • http://twitter.com/therebelgod Derek Flood

      Jeff,

      I am not rejecting penal substitution
      because of some touchy-feely reason. I am rejecting it because it is
      simply unbiblical. Those false interpretations deeply hurt people,
      driving them away from God’s love, and leading people to justify
      violence. That’s a big deal.

      Space does not permit me to go into
      detail here, but in the book I spend a lot of time looking in detail
      at what the Bible actually teaches about the cross, drawing from the
      best biblical scholarship available, and really digging in deep. I
      think if you read the book, you would see that the arguments are
      based on very solid biblical ground.

      • 21st Century Episcopalian

        I agree that Christus Victor is an extremely important way to view the magnificently multi-faceted work of Jesus on the Cross. He indeed is, and won, victory over sin, death, and brokenness in the cosmos.

        Yet, like a multi-faceted diamond, gleaming brilliantly in various ways as it’s turned slightly, so the work of Christ on the Cross. Yes, Christ as Victor. And, yes, Christ as Example. But also, and I must say adamantly so, Christ as the SACRIFICIAL LAMB.

        From Gen 3:16 (innocent animal skins taken to cover sin), to Gen 22 (innocent ram slain INSTEAD of Isaac), on through Ex 12 (innocent lambs sacrificed INSTEAD of firstborns), on through Levitical altar sacrificial system, on through Passover Feast remembrances, on through to the birth of God, Jesus Christ.

        John the Baptist, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”. Why Lamb? Self-evident given the full Old Testament context. (THE Lamb Jesus, INSTEAD)

        Jesus, “Son of man came … to serve and give his life as a ransom”. (THE Lamb Jesus, INSTEAD).

        Last Supper in synoptics. It’s a passover meal but no lamb is mentioned. Why? Because Jesus IS the lamb fulfilling and completing the atoning work that no animal had really ever done.

        Plus Paul (1 Cor 5:7b “…For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed”), Peter, Hebrews, etc, etc.

        Revelation 5:6, “Then I saw a Lamb, looking like it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne” … vs.9. “You were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God”. Lamb referring, of course, to Jesus, used 4 times in this section alone.

        Why is Jesus called a Lamb? Self-evident given the full biblical context.

        Where you go wrong, Derek, and I appreciate the heart of wanting God to appear more appealing and accessible to our culture, is that you’ve taken a reductionistic approach to the cross, ignoring clear and relevant biblical passages that showcase the atoning death of Jesus as the ultimate fulfillment and final completion of every OT sacrifice.

        Though the term “penal subst atonement” (that seems to be the sticking point for your argument) could be argued to not have appeared until 1099 St. Anselm, there is strong historical record that the earliest church fathers, though they may not have used that term “penal”, still held that substitutionary belief. For instance…

        Origen: You see how the ALTARS are no longer sprinkled with the blood of oxen, but consecrated BY THE PRECIOUS BLOOD OF CHRIST. (Homilies on Joshua 2:1)

        Also, St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. John Chrysostom, Ambrose, Augustine, etc.

        Not to throw cold water on your book sales, but you’re limiting the scope of the issue to one piece and, in my theological mind, missing the more crucial piece that Jesus died on the cross as a substitute for our sins as the sinless lamb of God.

        One last point: Jesus was pre-existent with the Father God and therefore was not some “after-the-fact” imposed-upon recipient of Father’s anger.

        • http://twitter.com/therebelgod Derek Flood

          You make two very good points: one is that the atonement is multifaceted. No one theory (including Christus Victor) can quite capture it.

          You are also quite correct that we see Christ described as a sacrifice in the NT, and that there is also clearly in the NT what could be described as a “substitutionary” language (although I would say “participatory” is a better word). I discuss both of these aspects (sacrifice and substitution) in the book in detail.

          The question is the purpose of these. That is, do they function to appease an angry God? The evidence is pretty clear that they do not. Sacrifice for example in both OT and NT was seen as having a cleansing and purifying function. It changed us, not God. Note for example that John says the lamb “takes away the sin of the world” and not “takes away the wrath of the Father.”

          Regarding patristic authors, I wrote an article for Evangelical Quarterly you may be interested in:
          http://therebelgod.com/AtonementFathersEQ.pdf

          It shows that while we do see the theme of “substitution” in the Church Fathers, when read in their own context, we see that this was clearly understood by them in the context of restorative rather than retributive justice. That is, they saw it as something that heals and liberates us, not as something that appeases God.

          • http://www.facebook.com/DeepNarcosis William J. Green

            Your implication is that Jesus, who could have marshaled legions of angels and come down off the cross and saved Himself pain, agony, separation from His Father, and a trip to Hell, did NOT do so for no good reason. In short, He did NOT need to die as an atonement to appease the righteous wrath of God. He only substituted Himself but for no propitiative purpose.

            Thus, any one of us could have died for the other and the result would have been the same. Mortal Martyrdom, in your theology, precludes the need for Jesus’ unblemished, sinless Immortal martyrdom. This only adds to the Muslim basis to ridicule the cross. They think it is absurd — and rightly so — that God would send His Son to die on the cross WITHOUT accomplishing salvation by appeasing His wrath.

          • 21st Century Episcopalian

            I apologize that I haven’t been on in a few days and am just now reading your reply. I think the website was down for a day or two as well. Anyway…

            I appreciate your heart, and will read your article on patristic authors.

            But… I still think the biblical content speaks to BOTH the “takes away the sin of the world” AND “takes away the wrath of the Father”.

            The problem is what does the Church do with that concept of God’s wrath? And how has that biblical concept been obscured, and even bastardized, in the name of religion and conquest (Inquisition, for example)?

        • Drew

          Excellent post. William, take note. I even learned a few new things.

      • http://www.facebook.com/DeepNarcosis William J. Green

        God’s Wrath Against Mankind
        18The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
        21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
        24Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
        26Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
        28Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”

        Romans 1:18ff

    • http://www.facebook.com/DeepNarcosis William J. Green

      Excellent reply. Thank you. Much obliged!

  • Gerald

    “many Christians struggle to believe in penal substitution, even though
    it seems wrong and hurtful to them. We hate it, but think this is what
    God wants us to believe.” ~REALLY?! How presumptuous.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Westerman/1531760045 Chris Westerman

      I agree Gerald. I dont hate penal substitution. It makes perfect sense to me. God’s justice is a good thing. I dont think what is clearly explained in scripture is mere theory.

  • KA Crosby

    I agree with both Derek and Morgan here.. Penal Substitution as it is currently held cannot be true – God doesn’t kill God in an act of justice; God allowed us to kill him in an act of injustice. So the only penal part had to do with humanity’s long religious and legal obsession with scapegoating (often in the form of blood sacrifice). Jesus offering himself up to our system, then resurrecting, was God’s way of saying, “Look guys – your way doesn’t work anymore, and actually, it never really has!” His way of love is now revealed. The cross is a massive display of love winning over vengeance. A confounding of the powers that be.. and that’s why religious violence, or any violence on the part of the majority, is now exposed as evil.

    But this all only makes sense if you read the Scriptures from the point of view of the victims, not the winners or the (moral) majority.. the blood of Abel, through to the blood of Jesus.. and the martyrs in his footsteps..

    • Frank

      So I assume you simply dismiss Paul’s writings as well as some OT writings? You are picking and choosing right?

      • KA Crosby

        You assume wrongly, my friend.

        As to your second question, I think we all pick and choose. It is a mistake to think that because we read the Bible literally, we are immune from this. Everyone privileges certain texts over others. We choose to privilege the NT over the OT when we don’t take the Levitical law as applicable for us. When there is a seeming conflict of ideas, or difficulties in interpretation, we often choose one passage over another. Indeed, there’s a strong argument that Jesus “picked and chose” parts of the Hebrew scriptures himself. He certainly interpreted it vastly differently to his contemporaries. To me, this doesn’t mean that we are dismissing the passages we do not privilege, it just shows that we are discerning the golden thread of God’s words within scripture. Not all of it is meant for us to apply willy-nilly to our lives today. The bits we do not see as directly applicable are still useful for teaching, for our understanding of the story of God and humanity.

        The question isn’t do you pick and choose, the question is WHY do you pick and choose – what is your hermeneutical justification? What are the assumptions there? FWIW, I choose to know clearly that my hermeneutic is a Christocentric, or perhaps Christotelic is better (thanks Dr Enns: http://rachelheldevans.com/bible-enns-apostolic-hermeneutic). Which for me means an explicit privileging of the Gospel books, over Paul, over the OT, as the basis for and story of the gospel. Everything else in Scripture should be seen in light of Jesus life, death and resurrection. I don’t expect you to necessarily do the same, but I do think it is wise to know your own assumptions.

        • Joe

          Well said.

        • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.lachlan.clark Daniel Clark

          I would agree, we all have a bias we need to leave at the door when we approach the scriptures and this is a constant struggle for each of us. However one thing I would push back on is the assertion that blood sacrifice was “our system”. I would need to have a prior belief that was fairly well thought through to theologically back-flip through the fact that it was YHWH who commanded blood sacrifice – not humanity… I would also add that many times throughout scripture, certain violence is condoned (there are of course times when violence is abhorred and others where violence is simply reported as history). I’m sure this line of argument isn’t new to you.

          • KA Crosby

            There is plenty of good theological work done that follows through on violence being our system. It is a very comprehensive, albeit subversive way of approaching Scripture and the history of God and mankind. It definitely upsets the sola scriptura/literalist applecart and requires a Christotelic approach, (matching up anything claimed to be God’s words to that of Jesus – the complete expression of who God is) as previously mentioned.

            If you ever feel led to follow up this line of thinking, I encourage you to check out James Alison, Michael Hardin, The Raven Foundation (who riff off the work of Rene Girard and his mimetic theory) and increasingly more people. Definitely not for the faint of heart, but I have found mimetic theory and its theological sibling to have incredible explanatory and revelatory power. Very freeing.

  • KA Crosby

    I agree with both Derek and Morgan here.. Penal Substitution as it is currently held cannot be true – God doesn’t kill God in an act of justice; God allowed us to kill him in an act of injustice. So the only penal part had to do with humanity’s long religious and legal obsession with scapegoating (often in the form of blood sacrifice). Jesus offering himself up to our system, then resurrecting, was God’s way of saying, “Look guys – your way doesn’t work anymore, and actually, it never really has!” His way of love is now revealed. The cross is a massive display of love winning over vengeance. A confounding of the powers that be.. and that’s why religious violence, or any violence on the part of the majority, is now exposed as evil.

    But this all only makes sense if you read the Scriptures from the point of view of the victims, not the winners or the (moral) majority.. the blood of Abel, through to the blood of Jesus.. and the martyrs in his footsteps..

  • http://www.facebook.com/DeepNarcosis William J. Green

    Let me go way out on a limb here and guess: 1) you’re a registered Democrat; 2) you cheered or at least empathized when at least half the Democrats booed God three times at their convention; 3) You completely disregard the Old Testament and the epistles — especially Romans and Galatians — attributing authenticity and authority ONLY to the relatively few verses of the 66 Books of the Bible colored red; 4) you hold an anthropocentric view of theology as opposed to a Theocentric; 5) you disbelieve all the references to Jesus as a “sacrificial Lamb;” 6) you would be much happier starting your own religion; 7) you feel a great need to apologize for Truth, God, and His righteous wrath; 8) you believe God’s Word should NOT be a stumbling block for wo/men and the “wise” of this world are NOT fools in God’s eyes; 9) you discount the billions of faithful Christian’s faith that has embraced the OFFENSE of the cross and have loved God even more for re-directing His just and righteous punishment onto Christ; 10) you think that the message of the Gospel is that people should feel good about God, themselves, and rather than praising God for the ultimate sacrifice should go around saying to themselves and others, “I’m OK, you’re OK, no worries;” 11) SIN either does not exist or if it does, it is NOT offensive to God and does no harm to anyone; 12) you’re more worried about converting people to Christ than that you get the message truthful and correct, discounting the Truth that God has His elect and that His grace is irresistible to them.

    Why not just start your own cult? Call it anything but Christianity. Name it after yourself. That would be great. And leave the billions of us who believe, know and understand that the love of God was made manifest and infinitely proven in the death and RESURRECTION of His Son at the hands of sinful men who deserved to die that horrible death and warranted perdition for eternity.

    • Drew

      It is unfortunate that you have let anger and politics consume your life, and that instead of dialogue, you seek only to make accusations and assumptions.

      • http://www.facebook.com/DeepNarcosis William J. Green

        What is unfortunate Drew is that you and your ilk, along with Obama and his ilk, think suddenly that after 2,000 years and 220 years, respectively, you suddenly became wise in your own eyes and now know better than the billions that came before you — the quintessence of hubris, arrogance, and iconoclasm. God is an angry God! Our wishful thinking to the contrary does NOT change this. God kills! Why? Because He’s God. The great irony and sin is that many who think like Derrick and you cheer and advocate for filicide, giving women and their doctors legal immunity to kill as mere sinful mortals, whereas you descend into high dudgeon and plunge in deep umbrage at the suggestion that GOD can and does kill as the Mighty Immortal God.

        Women and doctors are NOT God; God is God and we don’t exchange the Truth for a lie.

        God hates sin and punishes it: horrifically, horrendously, and wrathfully. He’s done so right from the beginning in the Garden and will continue to do so until the Parousia.

        Explain Ananias and Sapphira otherwise!

        Get ready!

        • Drew

          Who is “me and my ilk?” I would be interested to see what false assumptions, prejudices, and malicious lies you have conjured up about me in your darkened heart. Keep in mind that I never disagreed with your points, William, but rather how you are making them. I am fully aware of the sovereign nature of God.

          It’s too bad that you mentioned politics in your response to me about worshiping politics, but you never mentioned Jesus once. You need to replace your idols… drop politics, and worship Jesus.

          • http://www.facebook.com/DeepNarcosis William J. Green

            CLUE: Jesus IS God! You’re forgiven for your inability to recognize this.

          • Drew

            Jesus is part of the Godhead, but is not God our Father, so no need to correct me where I am right.

          • http://www.facebook.com/DeepNarcosis William J. Green

            I’m Trinitarian; if you’re Unitarian I DO Correct you here and now!

          • Drew

            That’s what I said William, no need to try your hardest to be hateful when there is nothing to hate.

          • wjgreen314

            To think that after 2,000 years of Christianity predicated upon God’s word that 21st century Christians would suddenly correctly conclude something not taught by God and which completely abrogates God’s Just Wrath in favor of cheap grace and universalism is hubris and anathema. It’s verboten and Weltschmerz.

        • Questioning

          William, until and unless you can make a post without somehow dragging politics into it, you are wasting your time here. No one is going to take you seriously.

        • Lance

          William, just because the “billions” that came before used to believe certain things does not mean they’re right about everything. In fact, they were quite wrong and ignorant about a lot of things. Drew is entitled to his own views. Just because it differs from your view (or anyone else’s view for that matter including the “billions” you speak of) does not mean he is arrogant and some sort of iconoclast. You sound like a Pharisee rather than like Christ. The “God” you describe is the opposite of the God that has been revealed to me through Jesus Christ. Jesus revealed a God of love, compassion, and forgiveness. Jesus said there is no sin that cannot be forgiven save for blaspheming the Holy Spirit. Jesus said we must not only love God and our neighbors, but also our enemies. When Peter asked Jesus if one should forgive someone as many as 7 times, Jesus replied no, but 70 x 7. Jesus said that if we forgive our brothers for their transgressions that God will forgive for us for ours. The Gospel of John says God is love. If God is God of wrath why didn’t Jesus stone the woman caught in adultery? He alone could’ve done so, but he did not. He instead he asked if there was anyone left to condemn her and when she said no, he said “Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.” That does not sound like a God of wrath to me. You seem to think you have a corner on the truth and that you have it all wrapped up with nice little bow. If anyone is being arrogant, it is you sir. You ought to work on getting the log out of your own eye before trying totake the splinter out of someone else’s eye.

  • http://www.facebook.com/DeepNarcosis William J. Green

    “Did Jesus die to save us from God?”

    No! To save us from sin; including blasphemy, idolatry, and bearing false witness!

  • Samuel Otwell

    I agree with the basic tenant of your argument that the way the church has interpreted the cross historically has been overly focused on the legal and forensic aspect of salvation and weak, to say the least, on the victorious Christ over the powers of sin and hell. My concern with what you are suggesting is that therefore, the Gospel–meaning the life and word of Jesus Christ establishing him as King over all things–has nothing to do with sacrificially atoning for the wickedness that human being have committed against each other and ultimately against the one in whose image they are made. The language of substitution and propitiation of a wrathful God is present in both the Gospels and the epistles to the Churches and obviously in the Old Testament (which sadly you have neglected to touch on or appeal too), which is the Bible that Jesus submitted to and taught his followers to follow. The new age has dawned, but it has dawned because the old age was ended, concluded by Christ’s adherence to the Law that governed it. The way to this new age in Christ was paved by the substitution of Christ in place of sinners just like the sacrifices of the Old Testament were for the Israelites. The other part that you seem to have neglected is the fact that Jesus did not come as a simple man to save us from a wrathful God; He was God, who came to take on himself the penalty and judgment that he had reserved for sinners. God came and propitiated his own wrath (meaning he redirected his own wrath on himself and took it in himself in the person of the second member of the Godhead). God appeased God’s wrath. We forget this I think. Jesus was not only fully man; he was, is and always will be fully God as well. So, in light of this, it is fully in line with the self-giving love represented in the New Testament that Jesus (the God-Man) died to alleviate the wrath of God toward wicked humanity who have rebelled and sinned against both him and those who bear his image. God laid down his own life so that we may have life. This is the Good News. From this place we begin the new age of freedom from the Old Law and its requirements. It is from this place that we now live at the meeting point of that which is old and that which is new and soon to come in full when the Father desires. This is not a schizophrenic God. This is a God who wants everything set right again–which is what justice always was in the Scripture and always has been. We want that too. And the amazing thing is that this God that we serve who desired freedom for his image bearers took it on himself to make it possible. You are quite wrong in your assessment of what kind of God would sacrifice his Son for the payment that sin demands. It is not “divine child abuse,” which some have blasphemed God by saying. It is God saying, “it is my life and my power to lay it down and take it back up again.” This is a God who was so broken, angry and hurt over the wickedness of humans and who wanted them back in relationship with himself that he did the opposite of what he demanded from them: instead of a “life for a life,” he laid his life down for the life of all. He committed “divine suicide” if anything, because he submitted to the death that wicked humanity had brought into the world so that his life would overcome it and enter the human race through human being’s repentance and unity to him in God the Son, by God the Spirit, who brings peace to those he indwells. God is holy and demands that wickedness be punished, this will come either on God himself in the Person of Jesus (who is fully man also) or on each man and woman according to what they have done. I do not pronounce general brushstrokes of judgment and condemnation on all people, they each will have their own personal session with Jesus who will determine their eternal fate, but judgment and punishment will be administered and for the true Church, this judgment and punishment was completed on the cross of Golgotha and life was administered to all who believe in Jesus at his resurrection. Praise God for his good justice. He will set things right and has begun already in those who have taken his atoning substitutionary sacrifice as their own. This is a good thing. I call to you Mr. Flood and all other believers struggling with this to stop with reactionism. Wrestle with God in this as you question his goodness in how he has revealed himself in his Word, but wrestle from a place of submission to him as Sovereign King revealed in his Word (both the living word, Christ, and the written word, all Scripture). As the Psalmist did when they questioned God’s goodness, appeal to God not rebelliously or in an attempt to excuse him from the Holy God he is, but wrestle from a place of submission and hope because you know he is sovereign and because you know he is good. May God help us in this, starting with me. May God forgive us for rejecting his full revelation of himself in all Scripture, starting with me. Peace to all who are in Christ and may Peace come to those who are not. Amen.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Westerman/1531760045 Chris Westerman

    The Bible says the wages of sin is death. Jesus did not die to save us from God. He died to save us from the penalty of sin.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1373565965 Tyler Hernandez

    “Why did Jesus have to die? Was it to appease a wrathful God’s demand for punishment? Does that mean Jesus died to save us from God?” In the spirit of the name of the website “red letter christians” let’s quote Jesus: Luke 12:5 “But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.”

  • Joh Archer

    Healing or engineering the Scripture: Romans 5:9, 3:25, 1 John 3:4,Rom 7:12-14,Luke 13:3, Mat 25:46,Heb 10:26-31, 2 Tim 2:25, Gal 6:7–8,Mat 5:17-22, Mat 6:915, Rom8:33, Rom 3:21-25, John3:36, Isaiah 55:6, Rom1:18-19, Rom 2:5-8,Rom 4:18-25,Rom 12:19, Zephania 1:17, 1 Thes 1:9-10,Hab 1:13, Numbers 15:30-31,Mat 25:46,Mat 10:15, Mat 11:2024, Mat 25:41, Mat 25:46, Rev 14:9-12, Eph 5:6,Rom 11:22, Rom 2:4-11, Rom 8:3 and Rev 20:11-15 appear to be just some of the verses Mr Flood has overlooked and show his opinion to be proof-texted and incorrect.

  • Justin Hoke

    You are not a Christian at all, As Paul says, you are teaching another gospel which is no gospel at all. The hatred of God and his word that you show through your attacks on the pure truth of God’s holy word is comprehensible. May God grant you mercy for your blasphemy and life. This site is 100% apostate. Jesus said my sheep hear my voice and follow me and they will not follow another. This website is satanic and dedicated to the destruction of men’s souls, if you cannot see that from just a cursory reading of its contents then you are def and blind to the voice of Jesus. May Jesus Himself grant you eyes to see and ears to hear.

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