"The Father killed the Son": the offence of the Gospel?

While preaching at the recent New Attitude conference, as reported on the associated blog, CJ Mahaney said:

Who killed Jesus?The Father. The Father killed the Son. Feel God’s love for you revealed in this verse. He crushed his son. For you. He crushed Him. He bruised him. He punished him. He disfigured him. He crushed him. With all of the righteous wrath that we deserved. That’s what the Father did.

So great was his love for sinners like you and me.

It is perhaps not surprising that on that blog every comment so far, except for my own (I wonder if it will be allowed to stay there?), is gushingly positive about these words. But that is not everyone’s response. A certain Duck has written:

If any single quote could encapsulate why I am not a Christian, this one, by C J Mahaney, has to be it.

How should Christians respond to this? Adrian Warnock’s response was simple:

The gospel is veiled to the perishing . . . .

But is this the Gospel? Is the barbarity of a father killing his own son really the essence of the good news of Christ? Now I do not go along with Duck in rejecting the theology of substitutionary atonement, for that is clearly taught in Scripture. But, as I wrote in that comment on the New Attitude blog:

Where in Scripture does it say that “The Father killed the Son”? It is important to get things like this right. … If the offence we are causing to [Duck] is the offence of the Gospel, of course it must stand. But we must make certain that it is the offence of the Gospel, and not the offence of our theological constructions which go beyond the Scriptures.

10 thoughts on “"The Father killed the Son": the offence of the Gospel?

  1. There is an interesting discussion of whether the Father killed the Son on Christian Forums. CygnusX1 tries to make the case that he did, but I am afraid his arguments are as far from convincing as the heavenly body he is named after is from the earth (and that is 8000 light years!)

  2. Hi Peter,
    Thanks for your comments on my blog. I’m glad to know that there are some serious Christians who reject this brand of brutal theology. Though I’m no more likely to be convinced of the truth of your theology than Mahaney’s, I think that the way that believers view God says a lot about how they view their fellow man, and as such I don’t put all believers in the same boat as an athiest like Richard Dawkins does.

    Just out of curiosity, how did you happen to find my blog? Being from England, I suspect you may have stumbled on my blog through my links with Andrew Nixon’s blog “Think of England”.

  3. And thank you, Duck, for your comment. Well, you won’t convince me of your theology, or lack of it, either. But I am glad that you understand that not all believers are like Mahaney and friends.

    I didn’t find your blog through Andrew Nixon, but from a link in another blog – maybe Adrian Warnock’s quote although I did see your words somewhere else as well.

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  7. Thanks for this post. I know a family who attended Mahaney’s church and they left for a time because of the teaching like the above. The Sovereign Grace movement, I believe, honestly loves God and wants to please Him. But I have some serious issues with their teaching. Warnock’s silly comment only underscores why hyper-Calvinism can be so harmful.

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