Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Cosmic Child Abuse: The Atonement Under Attack

In his book, The Story We Find Ourselves In, Brian McLaren introduces a not-so-new concern about the atonement as his fictional character observes the atonement calling it "divine child abuse." McLaren, however, is not necessarily the front runner of this position. Steve Chalke has openly defended the atonement as "cosmic child abuse" in his papers and the book The Atonement Debate. The fact is, this line of logic does not stop with abandoning merely the idea that God intended to inflict His wrath of Christ, but leads many thinkers on the path toward total denial that God would have wrath in the first place.

I would submit to you that not only is this logic unbiblical and heretical, but it leaves one with a host of unanswered questions. Why do we commemorate and revere Christ for His death after all? How can one adopt the Christian faith in a true sense and deny the very reason for Christ's death? Can you really "follow Christ" with merely a set of moral imperatives and "love thy neighbor" ideologies? Is it true, as the world has tried so desperately to affirm, that Christ was merely a good man whose death bears no theological ramifications that would dare to impose a set of propositional truths on our convenient world of relative reality? Will we profit the human race if we can but succeed in defining God according to our ideals—with no wrath, discriminatory judgments, or sovereignty over this world?

In my last post, I posed the rhetorical question "Who Needs an Atonement Anyway?" The answer, if Mclaren and Chalke are to believed, would be nobody at all. But, praise God that we can see plainly His plan in scripture to redeem His people by the very intentional means of substituting His son in our place to expiate the Father's wrath.
"God made him who had no sin to be sin for us." — 2 Corinthians 5:21

Not only that, but the plan was not a mystery to the Son. This cannot be considered child abuse as the Son fully understoods the will of the Father when he emptied Himself in order to carry out His purpose.
"The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." — Matthew 20:28
Substitution is at the heart of what the atonement means. It is the very reason that Christ can now be king over an everlasting kingdom (Heb. 1:3). It is the perfect fulfillment of God's plan, not the ugly mark of some disgraceful temperament that we should be ashamed to proclaim. God is rightfully wrathful. He is just and righteous in His judgment. I find it rather laughable that the flawed, sinful human would render judgment on the legitimacy and fairness of God's own judgment.
"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God... Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age?" — 1 Corinthians 1:18,20

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