Did God kill Jesus? Part two

Father_forgive_themWe’ve been asking some faithful questions about the popular view of atonement (Penal Substitutionary Atonement, or PSA) that postulates that God killed Jesus in order to forgive us. The main verse advocates use for this view is Isaiah 53:10.

We will get to PSA’s proof-text in due course, but we’re still covering some vital background to understanding this prophecy.

It also occurred to me that you might still be wondering why this is relevant on a blog about sonship and living in the Father’s embrace. It’s for exactly THAT reason!

In my view, any theory that teaches that God the Father killed Jesus is utterly repugnant, morally unjust, and creates a convoluted and conflicted view of the Trinity by turning the Father against the Son. Not to mention, this scripturally contradicts everything Jesus taught us about His Father. I will talk more about all this later in this series.

I also believe that the PSA view of a “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” Father has done more to undermine our relationship with Him than just about anything else we’ve ever hypothesized about God. After all, who wants to be intimate with someone with such extreme anger issues that He can’t even forgive unless He murders an innocent victim—namely, His own beloved Son! Do we really think this is what the Old Testament taught us about God? What Jesus taught us? But I digress…

In this installment, I want us to see whose perspective is being given in Isaiah 53. In other words, is this prophecy written from God’s perspective (theocentric) or man’s perspective (anthropocentric)? I discussed why this is important to properly understanding Scripture in the introduction. Let me give you one biblical example here that’s relevant to this topic.

For example, one lonely verse (actually, only half of a verse!) is often cited for why God cannot look at sin. It’s found in the first half of Habakkuk 1:13:

You are of purer eyes than to behold evil,
And cannot look on wickedness. (Hab.1:13a NKJV)

I hear this quoted over and over by preachers who say that God cannot even look at sin, so He had to abandon Jesus at the cross, as if this were actually true! But let’s read the rest of the verse (bold-text added):

Why do You look on those who deal treacherously,
And hold Your tongue when the wicked devours
A person more righteous than he? (Hab.1:13b NKJV)

Habakkuk’s sentiment in verse 13 was a repeat from his lament earlier in verse 3 (bold-text added):

“Why do you make me see wrongdoing?
And why do you watch wickedness?” (Hab.1:3 GWT)

WHO has the problem with “beholding evil” here? God? No! Habakkuk! I mean, come on…do we really think our God is so small that He can’t look at evil? What was Jesus doing then? Yet, He has been misrepresented this way for centuries, even by highly-educated people, as if it were the gospel truth. I made a more thorough case on this point in my post, “God cannot look at sin…really???”  My point here is that this half-verse proof-text has been misinterpreted, taken out of context, and made into a doctrine that everybody repeats without question, all because of confusion over whose perspective is being given here.

With these things in mind,  we can now turn our attention back to Isaiah 53. Whose perspective is being given in this prophecy? Is it God’s or man’s? For the most part, I see this prophecy as anthropocentric. I will highlight some words from verse 2-4 to show that this is the case:

And when WE see Him,
There is no beauty that WE should desire Him. (Isa.53:2b)

He is despised and rejected BY MEN,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And WE hid, as it were, OUR faces from Him;
He was despised, and WE did not esteem Him.
Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet WE esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted. (Isa.53:3-4)

I will ask some questions from this that should be very easy to answer. Whose perspective is this? Who are the ones hiding from Jesus? Who are the ones who have turned their face away from Him? Who are the ones who have interpreted this as God punishing Jesus? It can only be us. This is an account from man’s perspective, not God’s.

One more thing while we’re here. In Jesus’ day (as well as Job’s day), bad things happening to people were always interpreted as punishment from God (Not much has changed today!) But Jesus rebuked them for this faulty understanding in Luke 13:1-5.

Now, we are ready to look at Isaiah 53:10. Next time.


About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 41 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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10 Responses to Did God kill Jesus? Part two

  1. Heidi Viars says:

    Did Jesus have to die for our sins?

    • Mel Wild says:

      Yes, absolutely. Good question. In fact, without Jesus’ incarnation and crucifixion, we could not have His life. The question here is not whether He died for our sins, but whether God had to punish Him (by killing Him) in our place in order for God to forgive us of our sins. Is this what the cross is all about?

      I shared what I thought was one of the major problems with the PSA scenario in “Saving Easter-Part two.”
      “While PSA does pardon our sin, it doesn’t adequately deal with our sin nature. It makes us legally right with God but not transformed. We’re just a pardoned criminal, a saved sinner. Our sin nature is still very much intact when Scripture says it was crucified with Christ. It’s not about what Christ did for us as much as it’s about what Christ did TO us.”

  2. Heidi Viars says:

    I have been to the Louvre in Paris several times. Before those experiences I had never in my life seen more magnificent art. If one would want to spent time taking in each piece he or she would have to spend months infront of the paintings. I believe you and I are looking at the most beautiful picture the world has ever seen, namely the love of our Father incarnate in Christ. Maybe we are not stepping far enough away from that “painting” to see the big picture. Mel, I don’t want to argue about the shade of this little pixel. I think we both agree it is red. In Him,

    • Mel Wild says:

      Yes, amen, it is red. My intent is never to be argumentative. But there’s a difference between arguing and faithful questioning. The first we should not in engage in as brothers and sisters in Christ out of love; the latter we must engage in if we are ever going to grow up into Christ. While the Word of God never changes, we must change and grow in understanding.

      As I said, I bring this subject for a very important purpose–to show our heavenly Father in the right light and remove the glaring contradictions we’ve created. This issue with PSA is more than just a pixel of the big picture; it’s a huge gaping hole. I have studied atonement theories from every aspect for several years, and it would take years to consider every aspect. I’m just hitting the main ones. Believe me, this “rabbit hole” goes very deep.

      PSA theory is about 500 years old; Satisfaction theory is about 1,000 years old. These are modern innovations compared to what the early church taught and believed. The problem is, because we’ve only heard PSA in the West, we think it’s biblical and don’t question it. This is tragic.

      Here’s why faithful questioning is needed. While PSA theory honors Jesus’ sacrifice, it has horribly dishonored the Father who, as you said, was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself on the Cross. He wasn’t the blood-thirsty punisher, He was the Victim. He was taking the whip and the nails from us WITH Christ. He has never hated us, even in our sin (Rom.5:8). He sent His Son because of love; not to punish us, but to rescue us from ourselves. It was not retributive justice, but restorative justice. There’s a huge difference between these two views. It’s worth the investigation, especially, to exonerate our loving Father.

      Btw, my son and his wife just got back from three weeks in Paris last month. They felt the same way. Experiencing the Louvre, and the many other museums, is a must! 🙂 Blessings.

  3. It is interesting that I would come back to blogging…and find you here discussing the very thing God’s been showing me at home. My journey into the Rabbit Hole began with The Shack – and the wounds on Papa’s hands.

    I realized the book was a novel, but this seemed to be excessive literary license. I nearly threw the book away at that point! So glad I didn’t. Instead, I began digging into Scripture to see what it really said. 2 Corinthians 5:19 (God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself) had completely escaped me during all my years of reading the Bible.

    At that time, I began to question some of the things I’d been taught about God. Due to my background, I never could fully trust a God with such vehement hatred toward me that He ‘had to do that’ to His own Son.

    This last year I’ve had to re-examine many things I’ve been taught. False ‘biblical’ counsel by well-meaning pastors and counselors kept me in bonds for more than 30 years of my life. As you stated, half a verse was taken out of context and served up as a command. (More for the sake of appearances and their reputation than for the genuine concern for me and my children, I’m afraid.) They used the ‘fear of an angry God’ bit to keep me in line…and in the line of fire as well.

    I’ve spent a good deal of time ‘practicing what I preach (forgiveness) over the decades of pain and anguish their words caused me and mine.

    During the spring of 2015, I discovered ‘Foundational Classes’ by Bob Hamp. It’s a series of five hour-and-a-half online video sessions. This led me to his podcast, which included a message entitled, “The Problem Jesus Came to Solve.”

    Bob asked the following: If sin is the problem Jesus came to solve, then why isn’t sin mentioned (in any form) in Genesis 3 – the place most would agree is where the problem began?

    He put words to what the Lord had been telling me for some time. I honestly thought I was rapidly becoming a heretic, Eve deceived and all that!

    Thank you for taking a risk by challenging what we *know* to be sound doctrine. Jesus did the same thing with the Pharisees who also believed they had God ‘dialed in.’

    It saddens me to realize that I’ve been dreadfully wrong about Abba for so long. I’m certain that I’ve perpetuated the image of the schizophrenic god who demands horrendous torture to appease His wrath. No wonder no one wanted what I had!

    If you don’t mind, I’d like to reblog this series. You’ve said it much better than I could…and being a pastor, have a ‘weightier’ voice.


    • Mel Wild says:

      Wow. Tami. You said a lot of really good things here! Amen and amen! I think The Shack was the beginning of “healing the gospel” for me (to borrow Derek Flood’s book title). I actually loved it when it first came out because it resonated on so many deep levels for me. I had felt a lot like Mack about God back in 2001 (for a very different reason). Btw, C. Baxter Kruger and William Young became friends after Young wrote the book. Dr. Kruger recently published a book called, “The Shack Revisited.” He discusses the story and gives the theological background for it. If you haven’t read it yet, you would really like it.

      I haven’t heard of Bob Hamp. Will need to check him out. It’s terrible how the “angry god” theme has been used to manipulate people and scare them into heaven. It may get people to say “yes” to Jesus (out of self-preservation), but it creates spiritual orphans who keep their distance from the “angry” Father.

      And, yes, by all means, re-blog away. 🙂 Blessings.

      • Thanks! Bob has a DVD set & book entitled “think different,lead different” that’s on my wish list.

        I’ll add Dr. Kruger’s book to my list. I’d love to pick up the theology. Young’s book was the ‘back door’ Papa used to get past my defenses. I’ll be forever grateful. He calls me back to The Shack every few years for another download. He is so creative!


  4. Cindy Powell says:

    As usual, this is really helpful, Mel. Still sorting it all out in my own mind and heart and working to find my own language in much of this topic, but really appreciate gleaning from your journey. Not only does this resonate in my heart and align with my own experience, but it is particularly helpful to understand the scriptural and historical side of the issue. Thanks, as always, for your passion (and patience) in pointing to His goodness! Blessing ~

    • Mel Wild says:

      I’ve been sorting this all out (and still sorting) for years so I hear you, Cindy! There’s a lot to unravel and put back together. The Rabbit Hole goes very deep. It takes patience and diligent pursuit; it takes courage and faithful questioning go against the religious status quo, digging down until we find Love. For me, it’s not only worth the effort and resonates deeply within my heart, I can’t go back to an angry version of God that directly contradicts everything else about Him because men have to project their sense of justice on Him. Not to mention, it’s used to manipulate people by frightening them to God and keeping them locked up in fear. They may really love Jesus, but they keep their distance from this version of the Father. If I thought PSA theory was biblically sound, or even the only version of atonement, I would defend it to the death, but it’s neither so I won’t. 🙂 Not when it turns our loving Abba Father some scary monster. Blessings.

  5. Reblogged this on Lessons by Heart and commented:
    “Yet WE esteemed Him (Jesus) striken, smitten by God, and afflicted.”

    When we stop to see through whose ‘eyes’ we are viewing a scene, we may be surprised that what we thought we knew…well…read for yourself.

    This topic is of great importance, for the wrong understanding of God’s character made a mess of my life. You can read my post, Raw and Real, to see what I mean.


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