Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Bacchiocchi Curious Misunderstanding

In a recent series of Newletters on the centrality of the cross ENDTIME ISSUES NEWSLETTER No. 166 “The Achievements of the Cross - Part 1” Samuele Bacchiocchi, Ph. D., writes:

This newsletter continues the study began in the previous newsletter on the reasons for Christ’s death. The study is excerpted from chapter 4 of THE PASSION OF CHRIST IN SCRIPTURE AND HISTORY, which is entitled “The Cross of Christ.”
In the previous two newsletters we considered the centrality and necessity of the Cross. We concluded that the centrality of Christ’s sacrificial death on the Cross is the foundation and center of the Christian faith. Christ understood His saving mission not in terms of living to teach moral principles, but in terms of dying to save people from their sins.

In this newsletter we move from the necessity of the Cross to the achievements of the Cross. The question we intend to address is: Why did God take our place and bear our sins? In recent years some disagreement has emerged among Adventist theologians regarding the reasons for Christ’s death. Some are uncomfortable with the notion of the substitutionary function of Christ’s death to bear the punishment of penitent sinners. They prefer to view Christ’s death as a revelation of divine love designed to rekindle a loving response in the heart of sinners.

But, if Christ had sacrificed His life merely to demonstrate His love toward us, it is hard to understand why such cruel demonstration was necessary. Love is best demonstrated not by dying for someone, but rather by living for and serving that person. The Cross must be seen as a revelation of both divine love and divine justice. This study attempts to show that salvation is through divine expiation of human sin and not merely through a divine revelation of love.

What is interesting here is that Bacchiocchi does not understand the cruel nature of man's evil. That is people tend to go to violent extremes against people they perceive as enemies. God did not design the plan for Christ death, God knew what would happen but it was human beings, the same kind that use bombs to blow up children on buses, the same kind of humans who herd Jews into concentration camps and work and starve them to death or run them through a gas chamber. The means of killing people is amazingly diverse but they are not really God instituted plans of killing. Love is demonstrated when as in the case of Jesus He shows love and forgiveness even while being tortured to death. The cross of Christ is not divine Justice, to be divine justice it would have to have been an act of God to kill God incarnate.

Bacchiocchi unfortunately does not even understand the problem of his assumptions as these first couple paragraphs of his series indicate. Attacking other views out of ignorance is hardly the way to begin a discussion of this important subject. Nor does supporting his position with non Biblical concepts such as divine justice seen at the cross help his position. In fact to me it looks like a piece of propaganda. What most Christians believe about divine justice at the cross, God pouring out His wrath on the Cross, or Jesus paying the penalty for our sin are all traditions which don't have Biblical support. You will not find and New Testament verses which tell us that God poured out His wrath on Christ, nowhere does it say Christ paid a penalty yet that is the central tenet of the Substitutionary/Penal theory of the Atonement (Click the preceeding link to see what is wrong with the Substitutionary Theory of the Atonement.)

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