Did God kill Jesus?

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.

0 thoughts on “Did God kill Jesus?

  1. Well said, Peter.

    A question in my mind is whether the ‘punishment’ was more in the death, or in the ‘Godforsakenness’. But, as Suzanne said over at Adrian’s place, the thing is a mystery, and we need to leave it alone and not go beyond what the scriptures say.

  2. Before debating endlessly about ‘secondary’ issues such as ‘atonement’ and ‘did God kill Jesus?’ etc, the ‘primary’ issue should be resolved once and for all.

    And what is that? Well…

    The ‘Yeshua HaNotzri’ of the New Testament should not be confused with the God-man ‘Jesus Christ’ portrayed by the Christian Churches.

    They are as apart as the poles!

    Monotheism was a practice peculiar to the Israelites of Old Testament times – “YHVH our god is one god.” (Deut 6:4).

    The New Testament is emphatic that God has never been seen by the human eye:
    No man has seen the father at any time (John 1:18, 6:46)
    Whom no man hath seen or can see (1 Tim 6:16)
    No man hath beheld God at any time (1 John 4:12)
    (God is) eternal, immortal, invisible (1 Tim 1:17)

    These texts were all written after Jesus’ death. Taken singly or collectively, they completely refute the teaching that God suddenly took on the form of a man.

    When the scripture writers testify that they have ‘seen’ God, they are writing in a ‘spiritual’ strain.

    Thus it is possible to ‘see’ God by doing good (3 John 1:11), or by being pure in heart (Matthew 5:8).

    These doctrines about the ‘divinity’ of Jesus arose from early church fathers’ ignorance of Hebrew modes of thinking and expression. ‘Virgin Birth’, Trinity, and the various ‘Divinity’ teachings are all demonstrably false and can be proven so by recourse to the very documents on which they claim to be founded i.e. The Old and New Testaments.

  3. Vynette, thank you for your interesting comments. I am also impressed by your blog, which seems to be giving a good argument that the Bible does not clearly teach the virgin birth – an issue I should look at more closely.

    I agree that there are some significant discrepancies between biblical teaching and church doctrine. Certainly the doctrine of the Trinity goes well beyond what is explicit in the Bible. However, it is my understanding that these teachings are at least to a large extent implicit in the Bible. You are right to re-examine the biblical basis for them, but I think that if you look at this carefully, and not with negative presuppositions, you will understand at least that the Bible clearly teaches the divinity of Jesus Christ. The same documents which you quote as proving your point also state the opposite, that Jesus was the divine Logos and was worshipped by the disciples (John 1:1,14, 20:28 etc etc).

    Maybe I will follow up with more on this, time permitting.

  4. Pingback: Speaker of Truth » Blog Archive » Did God kill Jesus: should I post like this?

  5. Pingback: Speaker of Truth » Why did Jesus die?

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