Was The Crucifixion Divine Child Abuse ?

‘(…) was the crucifixion an instance of divine child abuse? Does the crucifixion justify violence and perhaps passivity in the face of injustice?

We’ve seen that the charge of “abuse” doesn’t take into account the full scope of the biblical evidence – as though crucifixion was forced on the Son. Consider 1 Peter 2:21-25:

'To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.' (NIV)

We have no passive victim here. Jesus’s death on the cross was part of the predetermined plan of the Triune God – Father, Son, and Spirit. Each one suffered in this reconciling work. In weakness, Jesus actually conquered sin and the powers of darkness (John 12:31; Col. 2:15).

According to John’s Gospel, as we’ve seen, Jesus’s moment of being “lifted up” or “glorified” comes in the hour of God’s great humiliation. Rather than thinking of the crucifixion as the absence of God – with the darkening skies and the cry of dereliction (“My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?”) – this is actually the moment when God’s presence is most evident.

God shows himself in the crucifixion through a palpable darkness, an earthquake, and the tearing of the temple curtain in two. (Compare this event with the darkening skies, thundering, and God’s voice at Mount Sinai.) God’s great moment in history comes when all seems lost, when God seems defeated. God’s glory is revealed in God’s self-humiliation. No, the crucifixion was no act of divine child abuse. It was the history-defining event in which God gave his very self for humanity’s sake.’

Source: Paul Copan, Is God a Moral Monster?, Chapter 5: Child Abuse and Bullying?, p. 52-53 (2011).


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