Friday, September 14, 2007

Liberal Christianity and evangelism

This week i read this:

Once again we have a father demonstrating love by subjecting a son to death by torture, but this time the father is not trying to impress god. He is god, and he is trying to impress humans. (HT: Challies)

Now the guy who wrote this, Christopher Hitchens isn't a Christian, as we have guessed by the title of his book, 'God is not great', but i think it's still worth asking where he got such a skewed view fo the atonement from...

One things that the 'cosmic child abuse' crowd always seem to overlook is the willingness of Jesus to go to the cross. 'the world must know that i love my Father'. Does this sound like child abuse? Does this sound like what Hitchens and those who would deny penal substitution are talking about? A helpless defenceless child beaten by his merciless father? Even at Gethsemene, where Jesus sweated blood with anxiety at what is about the happen, He still comes to the conlcusion that 'not what i will, but what you will be done'... Again, Jesus is not dragged by His Father to the cross. The Father did not have the cajole the Son into this, the Trinity never disagree and never discuss...this the Plan from ages past. Jesus longed to show the world the rightouesness of God. He longed to show the world the glory of God by bringing the elect into communion with Him. He was not 'subjected to death by torture' in the way that Hitchens, or indeed many Christians would have us believe.

Secondly, 'God was trying to impress man'? No no no. It's hard to know where to start here. The Creator of the universe, the One who knit us together in our mothers' wombs trying to impress us? Trying to pull something out of the bag to make us look? No. And again no. Christ showed His love for us while we were still sinners, there's no doubt about that, but i'm not sure thats what Hitchens means. Christs death on the cross demonstrates the righteousness of God, because He had passed over former sins...It doesn't demonstrate that God was lonely and wanted to impress some new friends.

So what does this mean for evangelism? It makes it much harder. It's not difficult to to work out where Hitchens has picked these ideas up from, because it's surely not the Bible. Liberal Christianity, those who deny penal substitutionary atonement have made the job of portraying the utter glory and mercy and wisdom of the Godhead at Calvery all the more hard. Poor theology doesn't just matter in the libraries and affects people's eternity.

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