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The Cross -- Cosmic Child Abuse or God as Justifier (published in The Tribune, 10/30/10)

posted Sep 7, 2013, 1:15 PM by Fccea Webmaster
When Woodrow Wilson was Governor of New Jersey, he received a phone call that his close friend, a New Jersey senator, had just died. Minutes later a New Jersey politician called. "Governor," he said, "I would like to take the Senator's place." "Well," said Wilson shocked at the man's haste, "that's perfectly agreeable to me if it's agreeable to the undertaker." Probably not what the man had in mind.

But the story illustrates the historical, biblical view of Jesus' death on the cross. This view teaches that God's holiness is absolute; incapable of tolerating any sin. Thus, man's original sin in Adam, and every individual sin since, has rendered him subject to eternal separation from God.

But, God loves His creation. He, therefore, took the unprecedented action of sending His own Son in human flesh to pay the penalty for sin by deliberate forfeiture of His perfect life on the cross, making salvation available to anyone who would accept His gift by faith. God could thus, in the words of Romans 3:26, "be both just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus."

However, this view has become unacceptable to many concerned about offending the sensibilities of modern society. As one example, Union Seminary Professor Delores S. Williams says, "I don't think we need a theory of atonement at all. I don't think we need folks hanging on crosses and blood dripping and weird stuff."

Adherents of this new thought drastically underemphasize and little appreciate God's holiness. They insist that He is primarily defined by His love, and see it as inconceivable that He could demand the sacrifice of His own Son.

"Cosmic child abuse" has become a trendy catchphrase to rally those who would depreciate Christ's substitutionary atonement. The phrase, of course, suggests that only a fellow-abuser would hold to the idea that God purposely planned the death of His own Son to pay for the sins of the world.

But what is God's view of the cross as revealed in His Word. Was it just the random tragic end of a good man -- or at best, an example to mankind that love is supreme? Many suggest that the Bible is ambiguous on this issue. I beg to differ.

Christ's death was prophesied in detail hundreds of years before the event. Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 practically read like eyewitness accounts of the crucifixion. God's intention is made unequivocally clear in Isaiah 53:10, "Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, . . ."

Yes, God's love was clearly demonstrated on the cross as He paid a price we could never pay, for sins we cannot erase, to satisfy the holiness of a God we could never otherwise approach. The cross demonstrates the entirety of God's person, not just some select part. Scripture is emphatic that He bore our sins so that we could have His imputed righteousness (I Pet 2:24; II Cor 5:21; I Cor 15:3; Gal 1:4; Rom 4:25, et al). The message is crystal clear. Jesus Himself said, "For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord" (John 10:17-18).

It's like the jewelry store shoplifter who was caught. He pleaded, "Please don't call the police. I'll pay for it." When presented with the bill, he said, "That's more than I have. Could you show me something less expensive?" The point is sin always finds us out. The bill is more than we can ever possibly pay. There is nothing less expensive. All that remains is for an infinitely holy shopkeeper to pay the infinitely owed price on our behalf. Amazingly, He did.

It's clear, you can either have the Bible and Christ's atoning death -- or you can have cosmic child abuse and no Bible. But you can't have both. Personally, I would not want to stand before the Father one day having wrongfully accused Him of cosmic child abuse for sending His Son to die in my place.