We Don’t Need the Cross?Posted: October 17, 2008
I’ll be honest. This enraged me…
“Christianity is an abusive theology that glorifies suffering,” and if the Christian faith can be transformed into a force for genuine human liberation, “it must itself be liberated from this theology. We must do away with atonement, this idea of a blood sin upon the whole human race that can be washed away only by the blood of the lamb.” The “blood-thirsty God” who presently “controls the whole Christian tradition” rules over a pervasively patriarchal system. “We do not need to be saved by Jesus’ death from some original sin. We need to be liberated from this abusive patriarchy.” [Joanne Carlson Brown is a Feminist Theologian and Professor of Church History and Ecumenics, St. Andrews College]
Joanne Carlson Brown, “Divine Child Abuse.” Daughters of Sarah, Vol.18, No. 3 (Summer 1992), p.28
Have we come to this point? Has our society been so pacified that we can’t handle the reality of the Cross and the violent death of Jesus Christ? Have we become so enamored with ourselves that we have to do away with anything that might draw a negative light on us? Has Jesus become made into a plastic toy we conveniently bend and shape as we see fit? How did we get here?
Yes, in our culture violence is not something we like with our Sunday morning cereal. It’s not a pleasantry that we exchange on sunny afternoons. Should we do away with it then? Does Jesus really have to die? Well, we see examples in the Bible where Jesus seemingly promotes non-violence (Matt. 5:39), but are we to make that the normative message of Jesus? No, because He’s talking about non-revenge there, not non-violence. So what does Jesus think about His own death? Jesus says in Luke 9:22, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised”. He says this with progressively stronger language to His disciples as the time draws near. Ok, then we accept the death of Jesus as something that’s necessary, because He thought it was.
But did He really have to die for our sins (atonement)? Couldn’t he have just been murdered by an angry mob that was upset with Him? Why does it have to be God who ordains Christ’s death for the forgiveness of our sins? After all, is there such a thing as original sin that makes all of mankind depraved? Simply put, Jesus died, because there was a necessity for the atonement of our sins and however unpopular this may sound, God willed it (Isaiah 53, Exodus 16:59-63, Romans 3:25, Hebrews 2:17). This is not divine child abuse as if God was an angry out of control Father drunk with rage and bent on beating someone for His misery! This is God’s ultimate act of love (divine hospitality) to display His great love for His chosen people.
It amazes me what lengths we’ll go to create our own “religion”. We mar the Word of God and bend it to fit our own needs. That’s exactly what the Pharisees did. That’s why Jesus came to flip the script. And His ultimate act was the Cross.
We are sinners. We need saving. We need the cross. We need reconciliation. We need Jesus.