Did God Punk His Only Begotten Son?

Jason Micheli —  March 20, 2013 — Leave a comment

IMG_0593This weekend is Palm-Passion Sunday, the start of Holy Week and the day that begins with glad shouts of Hosanna and ends at Golgotha. This time of year the cross necessarily begs the questions:

‘Why does Jesus have to die?

What does Jesus accomplish on the Cross?’

It’s also a time of year that non-Christians scratch their heads at many of our conventional explanations for the Cross.

I remember going to an evangelical church with a friend when I was boy and singing the hymn ‘There is a Fountain Filled with Blood.’ I recall being completely confused and grossed out by the imagery not to mention the apparent glee everyone in the congregation felt over this bathtub filled with someone named Emmanuel’s blood.

Seriously, if you were to describe a cult, could you find a better illustration than people singing lustfully about buckets-of-blood?

Our historical atonement theories that calmly explain how Christ had to die on the Cross to satisfy the demands of God’s eternal justice and quell the Almighty’s wrath and anger over the sin of the finite, fallible creatures whom God made to be…ahem…finite and fallible don’t seem so self-evident if you’ve not already given your heart to Jesus.

Our tidy, transactional theories that unthinkingly assert that God can’t forgive humanity’s sin until someone pays the ultimate price for it seem just that to the average outsider- too tidy.

Affirming that God shows his ‘love’ for us by making his only begotten son die in his stead doesn’t appear to abide by most people’s notion of love.

Oh, we like to add, it’s okay because that only begotten Son is actually God incarnate. So, don’t worry, it’s not divine child abuse.

No, but then it’s divine masochism. God’s not a child abuser. God just has a pathology. Nice.

My point is that our usual, casual explanations for the central event of the Gospels:

A) don’t appear in the Gospels themselves and

B) only beget more questions, especially for unbelievers: 

 

What do you mean God can’t do something?

Is God a prisoner his own inner logic?

Is love just an attribute among many for God or is it who God fundamentally is in God’s nature?

I’m no saint but does Jesus deserve to be tortured to death because of my small-time narcissistic sins? The punishment doesn’t seem to fit the crime.

Why does God sound like someone with multiple personality disorder?

Tracking with this line of critique and skewering the gaping, sinkhole gaps in Penal Substitution Atonement is a great 2 minute film: Mr Deity and the Really Big Favor. In case satire is not your strong suit: The Jay Leno look alike (‘El as in Elohim) is God, the Young Guy (Jesse) is Jesus and Larry is, yes, the Holy Spirit.

 

Jason Micheli

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