Jesus did NOT come to save us FROM God

Love-CrossGod is not conflicted. He is Love–Father, Son and Spirit.

One of the goals of this blog is to dispel this notion that God the Father is somehow different than Jesus, including in His nature or in His intentions toward us.

And this erroneous notion no doubt is unintended; nonetheless, after centuries of what we’ve been taught, it remains deeply entrenched in our thinking. And I believe it creates a subtle but deadly contradiction about God that keeps us hiding behind our fig leaves of religion when our heavenly “Papa” wants to walk with us in the cool of the day.

With this in mind, I will continue where I left off last time.

So let’s shine the light on a popularly held view of the atonement. I wrote about this here so, in the interest of brevity, I will refer you to that post rather than repeat everything I said there.

For a quick review, most (Western) Christians have embraced what is referred to as a Penal Substitution view of the atonement. You can go to the link to get the actual definition of this view but here’s how it often gets interpreted in our imaginations…

– Man sinned
– God hates sinners and can’t even look at sin (see my last post on that)
– God’s really mad and His wrath must be appeased
– The Father sacrifices His Son to appease His anger (satisfaction)

Conclusion: Jesus changed God and saved us FROM Him

I agree with the first point, by the way.

But is this really the good news?  Jesus saved you from God? Or as John Crowder put it…

“God really hated you, but since He savagely massacred His own Child, He’s decided to love you as long as you pray this prayer…
“Obviously, in order to forgive someone, God needed to kill someone first, right? Isn’t that what forgiveness is all about?”  (“Cosmos Reborn”)

What would you normally call any person who behaved like this? Would you say they are good? Hardly!

And which kind of God does this sound more like? The One Jesus is said to have perfectly represented? (Heb.1:3), or the ancient pagan gods who had to be appeased by killing children, sacrificing virgins…to satisfy some perverted bloodlust or else?

Is  Jonathan Edward’s lurid description in “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” correct? God hates us so much that He dangles us like a spider over a fire until we submit?

Do we have a god more like Molech then? He demands His child to be sacrificed so that He won’t smite us down in a minute?

The really sad thing is, you’ve been so abused by this popularized theory that you will probably agree with that view of God.

But…really???

Is that who God is to you?

Heaven help us….

Before you dismiss what I’m saying because I’m putting the knife to an evangelical “sacred cow,” or possibly out of fear of listening to “false teachers in the last days,” did you know that this “God’s wrath needs satisfaction” view began with a man named Anselm in the 11th century?

In fact, nobody believed this penal substitution view before the 11th century. And the Eastern Orthodox Church has never believed it.

This Medieval view of God was later adapted by people like Calvin during the Reformation because, during this time, we were obsessed with a Roman Jurisprudence view of everything.

Not that this legal rule of law view is bad, in and of itself. It works great in civil matters but it’s devastating when applied to relationships.

For instance, would love in a marriage increase by adhering to this Roman Jurisprudence view? I rest my case, your honor. 🙂

On the other hand, the early Church held what is known as the Christus Victor view of the Atonement. It loosely goes something like this…

– Man sinned and alienated himself from God, going into bondage to Satan
– Because of the Prodigal Father’s unconditional love, God came in human flesh
– Jesus took all our bondage and fallenness upon Himself, even defeating death itself
– Jesus’ death and resurrection brought us back into union with the Triune Godhead

“The work of Christ is first and foremost a victory over the powers which hold mankind in bondage: sin, death, and the devil.“ Gustaf Aulén

So, which view sounds more like a God who is Love to you?

The Penal Substitution view, while not completely wrong, makes the Triune Godhead schizophrenic. More like Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde, we have a loving, forgiving and intimate Jesus, but an angry, distant and exacting Father who needs to kill someone in order to forgive them. This is a god of our imaginations, not one who loves us like He loves Himself (John 15:9: 17:23)

We need to get the atonement out of the courtroom and into the Living Room…where there is mutual love and devotion in the intimate, life-giving relationship between a loving Father and His beloved family.

Jesus didn’t save us from God. God came in flesh to save us from ourselves–our enmity and alienation toward God–to free us from Satan’s bondage.

Dr. C. Baxter Kruger said it this way…

“The gospel is not the news that in dying Jesus dealt with the dark side of God for us…It was our disease, not the Father’s; it was our dark side, not the Father’s; it was our alienation, brokenness, corruption, and the whole web of our guilt and wrongness that necessitated the cross.”

By the way, atonement literally means “at-one-ment.” It’s about union, not satisfaction.

Beloved, both the Father and the Son are pretty happy about the fact that they’ve done just that–reconciled us back to God, not the other way around. (See 2 Cor.5:19) Now, like the Prodigal’s father, they’re just waiting for you to come home (John 17:24-26).

More on this next time.

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About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 36 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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24 Responses to Jesus did NOT come to save us FROM God

  1. Justin says:

    “God came in flesh to save us from ourselves.” Well put! The Father didn’t kill Jesus, fallen man did. By His resurrection He showed us that we are free even from death! 🙂 Nothing can separate us!

    • Mel Wild says:

      Amen, Justin. That’s what the “at-one-ment” is all about…nothing can separate us anymore. Thanks for your comments. Much appreciated.

  2. Mel, you make things so clear, not only in my walk but in my apologetics. This makes SO much sense. I think you just put the last piece in the puzzle for me, brother. Bless you.

  3. secretangel says:

    Amen!! So powerful! “God came in flesh to save us from ourselves”. He sure did. In His infinite wisdom, He came to earth to show us the way back home… We serve an awesome God, my brother.

  4. Cindy Powell says:

    Wow. I actually winced and felt physically pained when I read the title of this post. It hurts my heart so deeply to think that people actually believe a God who went to such extreme lengths to demonstrate His love gets such a bad rap. The idea that Jesus saved us FROM mean ol’ Father God rather than drawing us TO Him is one I’m incredibly thankful I never quite embraced. Sometimes I forget there are people (sadly a lot of people) who actually believe He is mostly mad at them–rather than madly in love with them. Thanks for providing language for a lot of those folks to hear His heart.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Yeah, it’s pretty bad when you look at it this way, isn’t it. I was shocked when I studied this out. It’s so subtly taught, and we sing about it every day in churches. I don’t think most Christians realize that this penal substitution atonement (what almost all evangelicals are taught) pits the Father against Jesus and us. “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” is an extreme example but a very popular one. Pretty sad. And this is one reason why I think people don’t go through the Door (Jesus) to embrace the Father. Who wants to go to a scary Dad that Jesus had to save us from! This may never be consciously thought like this, but its devastating effects are there, nonetheless. That’s why the bright light of God’s love needs to be shed on it. No more religious orphan myths about our Father! He loves us exactly like Jesus! We are the ones with the Father image problems.
      Blessings.

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  7. Thank you. This post was part of my answered prayer. I had become totally dissatisfied with what I knew and was taught. It wasn’t making sense to me anymore as i grew amd walked with Him. I asked Him to explain this to me.The God I know now isn’t adding up to the God who had to kill someone for things to be right again with him. The God I know now will (and did) sacrifice Himself in our place to save us from death. Thank you for putting my thoughts into words. It finally took shape. Now it adds up.

  8. Reblogged this on Serving Jesus Here and commented:
    Eyes. .opened.

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  10. On my way to get Crowder’s book. I’ve been unplugged from church for some time (for a different reason). During that time, God has been showing me exactly what you’re saying. Yay, God!
    /o/

    • Um, probably won’t be buying it today. The link above offers a used copy for $7,777.02! Abebooks wanted $19,000. {sigh} 😉 Kindle version only $9.95.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Ha! That’s hilarious. And those are USED books. Wow! I mostly get the Kindle version anyway. I didn’t notice that before. They must be out of print or something.

    • Got a copy from sons of thunder pub for $23. I’m old school. Can’t read without a highlighter.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Cool. Glad you got it for under $5,000! LOL!
      I highlight in four different colors in my Kindle. But there’s still nothing like a paper book that you can leaf through and mark up. Kindle is just more convenient for me because I can carry all my books in my pocket. 🙂

    • I’m dragging my feet all the way into this millennium with all its electronic do-dads! Finally broke down and got a cell phone. For the record, I loathe texting! 😉

    • Mel Wild says:

      LOL! I got dragged into it by one of my sons a few years back. He thought calling was rude, so I had to learn how to text. 🙂

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