Without really intending to, I have got involved in a controversy, which has been raging most recently on Adrian Warnock’s blog, over whether it is right to say that God killed Jesus. See my posting here last Saturday for the beginning of the story. Adrian took things further with his posting Making an Impact Outside the Blogdom of God; it seems that he is proud of making such a negative impact on the non-Christian Duck. That post has generated a long series of comments, including from the well known American Christian leader Ligon Duncan. And Adrian has himself brought in an even bigger gun, John Piper, supposedly in his defence.
The problem is that no one is actually supporting the idea that God killed Jesus. Duncan, Piper and others insist that God sent Jesus, and that it was God’s plan for Jesus to die, and that by Jesus’ death God dealt with the problem of sin. And I agree with all of this, although some of the details are debatable. But none of them, no one except Adrian, can bring themselves to say that God killed Jesus. This is not surprising, for the Bible doesn’t say so, and it is not just the non-Christian Duck who realises that for God to kill his own Son would not have demonstrated his justice (Romans 3:26) but would have been a monstrous injustice.
Some people have suggested that verses such as Isaiah 53:10 and Romans 8:32 imply that God killed Jesus. The latter says no more than John 3:16: the word translated “delivered” or “gave up” does not imply death, for it is also used in Acts 14:26, 15:40, where it is sometimes translated “committed” or “commended”. Isaiah 53:10 is very difficult and unclear in Hebrew; “crush” is metaphorical, and there is no proper justification for the ESV rendering “he has put him to grief”. The closest anyone can come is Isaiah 53:4: “Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.” (TNIV). Adrian still considers that Jesus was punished by God, but in this verse there is a clear contrast, signalled by “yet”, between this misunderstanding and the true position given in the first part of the verse.
So, Adrian is left alone trying to defend what was probably originally a rhetorical flourish by CJ Mahaney, one which probably he would not really intend to be taken as a proper theological position.