Did God the Father Kill God the Son? – Greg Albrecht
I love whodunit mysteries, potboiler detective novels, television shows and movies. OK, I’m taking a risk – you may not respect me anymore and your trust in Plain Truth Ministries may be wavering – but you are my/our friend, you should really forgive me, so stay with me …
Employing DNA to identify the perpetrator(s) of a crime has been a fundamental tool of forensic science dating back to 1986. DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is self-replicating and carries genetic instructions and information so that distinctive characteristics and qualities of living organisms can be determined. DNA, present in almost every cell of the human body, leaves a trail of evidence behind wherever a person might have been. Using flakes of skin, drops of blood, hair, and saliva all of which contain DNA to detect and identify is something like 99.8% accurate. We all know this, don’t we? At least, we will if we watch Law and Order.
There is no doubt that a monstrous, once-and-only-once murder was committed on the Cross of Christ. The killing of Jesus is so staggering and reprehensible, yet it is the absolute bedrock of our faith. It was God on that Cross – God the Son, Jesus, was tortured, brutalized and crucified. Whodunit? Who should we blame and who should pay the penalty for killing the Son of God? Who should be brought to justice and pay for this enormous crime? DNA traces can’t help us answer the question of whodunit because it was almost 2,000 years ago and the science was unknown. Even if evidence of human involvement could be found it would be so degraded it would be impossible to detect who was responsible. The crime scene has been contaminated!
Were you there when they crucified my Lord? The lyrics to this hymn/gospel song (my favorite “cover” is by Johnny Cash) suggest, in its rhetorical questions, that the ultimate answer we should come to when searching for the culprits and perpetrators behind the murder of Jesus involves you and me. Whodunit? Were you there, when they crucified my Lord?
There were physical agents of murder present who carried out the torture and execution of Jesus, but establishing their precise identity does not remove our culpability. We could say we weren’t there, but the lyrics of the song suggest had we been there, nothing would have changed. Neither are we justified and exonerated when we read the four Gospels revealing that the depth of the hatred of religious authorities – their religious disgust, loathing and rage was so intense they persuaded the Roman occupiers to carry out the murder of Jesus. But we should not allow that story to de-rail us as we consider the question: “Who Killed Jesus?” Whodunit?
Christ-less religion (and you will see why and how it is Christ-less in just a moment), in a widely popular theory called the Penal-Substitutionary Theory (PSA) insists that God the Father killed God the Son. Much of Christendom suggests the answer to Whodunit is God the Father! Christ-less religion comes to this conclusion because it believes God is more interested in justice than he is in grace, mercy and love. Christ-less religion takes this view because it assigns the law of God to a higher priority than his grace, mercy and love.
Penal is the root word of penalty and is a word often used in conjunction with the time a law-breaking inmate is sentenced to serve in a penal colony or prison. Penal has to do with justice being served, a penalty paid commensurate with the crime committed. Christ-less religion is obsessed with justice and the breaking of what it believes to be God’s law (often defined as behaviors a particular name-brand religion believes to be necessary to please God!). Christ-less religion believes that human sin had so offended God and his law, sense of justice and holiness that something had to be done in order for divine justice to be served – so that God the Father could be satisfied and feel “whole” because of human sin.
Thus, according to PSA, God the Father could not (a word that doesn’t work in a discussion of God – God can do anything – nothing is impossible with him) let sin and evil go unpunished. So, says Christ-less religion, because our sin could not (another could that presumes to limit God) be forgiven otherwise God the Son had to die so that God the Father, who loves us, wouldn’t have to (another logical fallacy) send us to hell (eternal torture fabricated by Christ-less religion to keep its followers in fear and easier to control). Oh, what a tangled web Christ-less religion weaves, when first it practices to deceive!
If God must do something, or cannot do something, then something is greater than God. God is not God if he must do or cannot do something. God’s love, mercy and grace is his justice, a justice that involves forgiveness and reconciliation, rather than payback and retribution. Law, even God’s law, does not obligate God to condemn and penalize as Christ-less religion imagines.
Substitute is something or someone who takes the place of another. According to PSA theory, Jesus paid the penalty we should pay. PSA teaches God the Father poured out his wrath on his Son instead of on us so Jesus substituted for us. But assigning God the Father as whodunit seems to pit God against himself.
Questions about PSA:
1) The only kind of justice that humanity, apart from God’s grace, mercy and love can understand, is retribution – an eye for an eye – punishment that is “equal” to the crime. But God’s justice is not governed by human perspectives – God’s justice is higher than any kind of justice we humans can imagine.
2) Virtually all those who believe in PSA also know and believe that God is one. God is Triune – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. PSA, as believed by much of Christendom today, divides the Trinity, pitting the Father against the Son and thus proposes to inexorably separate the One inseparable God.
3) God the Father is not a vengeful Father who punished God the Son. God is love, and any theory that pretends to explain or describe him as a god of wrath, retribution, payback and violence is a hideously erroneous heresy, one that violates Jesus’ own teaching to love one’s enemies, turn the other cheek and refuse to repay evil with evil. This is Christ-less religion my friends, not the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Whose DNA can be found at the Cross of Christ? The DNA of the perpetrators of the death of Jesus – you and me – is found in the hatred and violence and rage carried out on Jesus. We were there when “they” crucified our Lord! The Cross is the eternal testimony of the DNA of Jesus, God the Son, who self-sacrificially, in the greatest act of love of all time, accepted all human wrath and transformed human hatred and violence, forgiving evil with good.
We humans killed Jesus, and he responded then and does now, with forgiveness, an invitation to God’s grace, mercy and love, and eternal life! Love is the footprint and fingerprints and DNA of God. Where there is divine love, there God has been and is. That’s why the Cross of Christ is the single, most profound demonstration of the love of God! Jesus did not sentence anyone to a hell of eternal, conscious torment while he was dying on the Cross. He did not threaten pay-back. Instead, he extended forgiveness, not merely to those who were present but to all humanity for all time. God’s love cost him everything, for God, in the person of Jesus, came to serve us – not the other way around. Christ-less religion, and so much of churchianity today, that believes the Cross to be explained by PSA, thus believing God killed his own Son, perceiving the Father as so scandalized by our sin that only the torture and crucifixion of God the Son could “satisfy” the Father’s perfect justice and holiness.
You want scandal? The true scandal is the amazing grace of God who forgives you and me over and over again, who loves you and me right now as much as he ever has or ever will. God’s grace is the real scandal, my friends – so much so that it is rejected by much of Christ-less religion. Give that some thought, won’t you? It’s marvelous, wonderful and breathtakingly beautiful!
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them? For from him and through him and for him are all things, to him be the glory forever! Amen. (Romans 11:33-36).