Two days before Good Friday, Al Hsu posted a provocative piece in the online version of Christianity Today entitled, “He’s Calling For Elijah! Why We Still Mishear Jesus”.  Hsu’s article has gone viral among evangelical Christians. He opens his essay by asking the following questions:

“Is God the kind of God that turns his back on his Son?” “Does God abandon those who cry out to him?” “How could God forsake the perfect God-man, the only one who has ever served him perfectly?” “Because if Jesus was truly forsaken by God, what’s preventing God from forsaking any of us?” “How could we ever trust him to be good?”

Hsu spent the rest of the article answering these questions, but his answers may surprise you: “God did not turn his back on his Son.” “He did not forsake the perfect God-man.”  “He did not pour his wrath out on Jesus Christ as he hung on the cross.”

Hsu’s argument focuses heavily on cultural perceptions of the Christian faith and how our global culture has shifted in recent years. Truth claims about Christianity have become passé, pragmatic claims have proved insufficient to deal with suffering that marks virtually everyone’s experience, and questions related to authenticity—spawned mostly by postmodernism—have proved inadequate. The question that is foremost in today’s world is whether the Christian faith is good.

Hsu’s answer to these questions is that the old Reformed view of the cross looks too much like child abuse; and, if the Father turned his back on Jesus, then the Trinity is broken. And this understanding of the gospel—the view held by Luther, Calvin, Edwards, Spurgeon, Barth, and a host of Protestant theologians for five hundred years—is bad. And if bad, then it is also false. 

Hsu then focuses on the cry of dereliction from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” He points out that the Gospels don’t unpack the meaning of the cry, and that for us to see it as God turning his back on Jesus is to read into the text. Hsu makes the argument that when the ancients quoted a verse, they meant the whole passage in which it was found to be understood. In the case of Psalm 22, that would mean that we should reflect on the whole psalm to grasp Jesus’ meaning. It is true that, often, the context from which a verse was quoted was in view, but not always. Hsu uses Luke 4.18–19 as proof, where Jesus reads Isaiah 61.1–2a in the synagogue in Nazareth and declares, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Ironically, this is one of the clearest passages to demonstrate that the whole context of the Old Testament text was not in view. The Lord stopped short of reading the rest of Isa 61.2 (“the day when our God will seek vengeance, to console all who mourn” [NET]), which most interpret as referring to the Second Coming of Christ. In other words, Jesus stopped short of quoting the whole verse because he wanted his hearers to understand that only the first part was fulfilled in his first coming.

Hsu camps on the whole of Psalm 22 as what Jesus meant when he quoted the first verse from the cross. But in doing so, Hsu makes certain assumptions that are questionable. First, although he claims that the whole psalm is in view, he seems to be saying that the whole psalm—except verse 1–is in view: “Here is direct refutation of the notion that the Father turned his face away from the Son”; “Jesus is not saying that God has forsaken him. He’s declaring the opposite. He’s saying that God is with him, even in this time of seeming abandonment, and that God will vindicate him by raising him from the dead.” In other words, Hsu argues that Psalm 22.1 should be understood to mean that God only seemed to abandon his Son. However, if God did not abandon him, there are a host of verses in this psalm that would serve Jesus’ purposes better (e.g., Ps 22.24: “For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him”).  

If Jesus didn’t die in our place, if he didn’t receive the full force of God’s wrath against sin, then what did he accomplish on the cross? For Hsu, the point of the cross was for us to know that we are not alone in our suffering. And he is bold enough to say, “there is nothing in Scripture that says that the Father rejected the Son.” This might come as quite a shock to the majority of Christians who have held otherwise throughout twenty centuries.

As Hsu admitted, the Gospels don’t unpack the meaning of the cross. We must turn elsewhere to understand its full import. The Gospels tell us the what.  The New Testament letters, especially those by Paul, tell us the why of the cross.  

Paul was a Pharisee’s Pharisee, and before he met the Lord on the road to Damascus, he was white hot at Christians’ claims. They had the audacity to claim that God had blessed Jesus the Nazarene by raising him from the dead. Paul understood the implications, if this were true: If Jesus had been raised from the dead, then the Old Testament—the only Bible in existence at that time—was no longer infallible; and, Paul couldn’t have that. The key text that drove his theology was Deuteronomy 21.23, “anyone who is hung on a tree is under God’s curse” (NIV). For Paul, it was impossible that God could have blessed Jesus by raising him from the dead, because he had cursed him by hanging him on a tree. Therefore, when the apostles began to proclaim that God had raised Jesus from the dead, Paul had to act. However, he was confronted by the ascended Lord from heaven on that dusty road to Damascus, and then confronted with two seemingly irreconcilable truths: The Bible was infallible, yet God had raised Jesus from the dead. Paul spent the next three years alone in Arabia, unraveling this paradox. He must have spent that time studying the Bible and connecting the dots. “How could I have missed this?” he must have thought. In any case, Paul emerged with a clear understanding of the gospel: Jesus Christ died in our place, suffering under the wrath of God, to pay for our sins. Thus, his resurrection from the dead was the proof that God accepted his payment on our behalf.

In Paul’s first letter, he quotes from this Deuteronomic curse, and weaves it into his theology of the cross: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’” (Galatians 3.13 [ESV]).  

Paul saw the sacrificial system as that which pointed ultimately to Jesus’ death:  Here was the suffering of an innocent victim—the innocent victim—who died, taking our sins on himself, so that we might live. Jesus Christ was “our Passover lamb,” Paul tells the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 5.7). The imagery here is unmistakable: The unblemished lamb was to be slain so that the firstborn of each home would live. The lamb died in the place of the firstborn, the innocent for the guilty.

In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul speaks plainly of what the cross-work of Christ meant: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5.21 [ESV]).  

In his magisterial letter that gives virtually a systematic treatment on salvation, the letter to the Romans, Paul’s gospel theme is the vindication of God’s righteousness.  He had been charged with going soft on sin, something that Paul adamantly denied. He proceeded to launch out with a declaration of God’s view of sin: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth by their unrighteousness” (Romans 1.18). As Ed Komoszewski said, “The Bible unequivocally teaches that wrath is not something that was merely sewn into the fabric of the universe when Adam and Eve sinned, but is something actually sent from heaven against sin.”

The apostle continues for three chapters (1.18–3.20), detailing the sinfulness of humanity before he brings in the good news. Leon Morris said that Romans 3.21–26 is, perhaps, the most significant paragraph ever written. Here is a text that lays out Paul’s gospel, yet that is not the primary point. Essentially, this passage speaks of God’s righteousness—how God cannot wink at sin, and how the cross was God’s public display of his righteousness, for in it he had poured out his wrath on his own Son.  

And the Son, as Paul tells us in Philippians 2.8, went to the cross willingly. This was not cosmic child-abuse, but a loving God who redeemed sinners by executing his own Son who obeyed the Father willingly and joyously. Would the Father allow his Son to die such a horrible death if it did not pay for our sins? Such a view would be cosmic child-abuse, for such a view can only treat Christ’s death as exemplary, not expiatory—as a model for us, but not a substitute for us.

God did not simply allow Jesus to die on one of the most horrific torture devices ever concocted so that Jesus could sympathize with our suffering. As Peter declared on the Day of Pentecost, Jesus “was handed over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2.23). And Paul says that “He was delivered up because of our transgressions and was raised for the sake of our justification” (Romans 4.25). The verb translated ‘delivered up’ is the word paradidomi. This is the verb used in Mark 9.31: “The Son of Man will be betrayed/handed over into the hands of men.” See also Matthew 10.4; 17.22; 20.18–19; 26.2, 15, 21, 23, 25, 45, 46, 48; 27.2, 4, 18, 26; Mark 10.33; 14.10, 11, 18, 21, 41, 42, 44; 15.1, 10; Luke 9.44; 18.32; 20.20; 22.4, 6, 21, 22, 48; 23.25; 24.7, 20; John 6.64, 71; 12.4; 13.2, 11, 21; 18.2, 5, 30, 35, 36; 19.11, 16; 21.20; Acts 3.13—all texts that speak of Jesus being handed over to be crucified. In other words, God the Father handed Jesus over to be crucified. He did not sit idly by, wringing his almighty hands, trying to prevent his Son from the suffering of the cross. No, he willingly handed over his own Son to death—and Jesus willingly accepted his fate.

In Isaiah 53, a passage that early Christians regarded as Messianic (see Acts 8.26–35), Jesus’ suffering on the cross was seen:

Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him;
he has put him to grief (Isaiah 53.4–6, 10a [ESV]).

Yet, even in the Gospels we get hints of the why of Christ’s death. In Mark 10.45, Jesus declares, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” This hints of Christ’s substitutionary atonement, of his dying in our place. When the Lord cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”, it was the only time in the Gospels in which he addressed the Father as God. To Jesus, at this point, God was no longer acting as his Father; he was his judge 

Furthermore, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus cried out, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Take this cup away from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14.36 [NET]). The imagery of the cup in the Old Testament speaks eloquently of God’s wrath. Isaiah 51.17 says, “Awake, awake! Rise up, O Jerusalem, you who have drunk from the hand of the LORD the cup of his wrath, you who have drained to its dregs the goblet that makes men stagger” (NIV). See also Psalm 75.8 and Jeremiah 25.15–16; in the New Testament, see Revelation 14.10; 16.19; 19.15. However, the cup to which Jesus was referring was the third cup of the Passover, the cup of redemption. The Jews in Jesus’ day would recite Exodus 6.6–7 when they celebrated Passover, and the third of four ritual cups was drunk after verse 6b was recited: “I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.” When Jesus asked the Father to take the cup from him he was referring to the cup of suffering, the cup of redemption that required judgment.

Then there are the three hours of darkness, the last three hours that the Lord was on the cross. It is at the end of this period that Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Does the darkness not speak of judgment, of God’s anger poured out on his own Son as he dies in our place?  Yet, at the very end Jesus declares, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23.46). Yes, the whole of Psalm 22 is in view, but not until we get to the death and resurrection of Jesus. 

To Hsu’s question, “if Jesus was truly forsaken by God, what’s preventing God from forsaking any of us? How could we ever trust him to be good?” Paul gives the decisive answer: “he who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, freely give us all things?” (Romans 8.32 [NET]). It is precisely because Jesus has suffered in our place that God is now free to give us all things, to do good to us at all times.

There is so much more in the New Testament that reveals a righteous and holy God who loves sinners, but who cannot permit them to come into his presence without the death of an innocent substitute, for “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin” (Hebrews 9.22). 

As A. T. Robertson wrote long ago, “Not one of the theories of the atonement states all the truth nor, indeed, do all of them together. The bottom of this ocean of truth has never been sounded by any man’s plumb-line. There is more in the death of Christ for all of us than any of us has been able to fathom…. However, one must say that substitution is an essential element in any real atonement (A. T. Robertson, The Minister and His Greek New Testament, 40–41).

The bottom line is that if the gospel is not an offense to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, it is not the gospel that the apostles taught. As James White has said, “The gospel is ours to proclaim, not to edit.”

To see a briefer review of Hsu’s article, go here.

    27 replies to "Sinners in the Hands of a Wishy-Washy God?"

    • Mike

      I would recommend you read St Athanasius’ treatise On the Incarnation. The problem of the atonement is not an angry God that needs to be appeased, but a sick and dying humanity. Christ became incarnate, died, descended to Hell and resurrected from the dead so that we may partake in His life.

    • Athansius frequently mentions that Christ’s death was a payment required by the guilt of our sins. (See for example On the Incarntion 20:10 & 20:30). These are not contrary views of the atonemant, but different approaches to the same thing.

    • samuel

      Thank Mr. Wallace for the convincing article. Two of your points I had never considered before 1) “my God” not “my Father” and 2) quoting part of Psalm 22 and Luke 4 quoting only part of the passage. That is very helpful. Praise the Lord for strenghtening my faith in Christ’s perfect propitation for me. Since the Scriptures teach the Holy Trinity and Atonement, how would you address that concern? May God bless us all with faith in our crucified and risen Lord.

    • Craig Bennett

      I think in any discussion about the ‘wrath’ of God. Romans is a good place to start. ...For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life….

      Death it self is the punishment for sin. And within this framework, Jesus suffered the same punishment of sin that all of humanity suffers…’death!’

      So in Christ the wrath Jesus suffered, was to suffer death in the most horrible way death can experienced. Simply put, there is no glory in death.

      But in the great exchange, Jesus died our death, so that we inherit eternal life…the gift from God.

    • Steve Martin

      Craig B.,

      Exactly. Romans says it very well.

    • Sam L

      I’m wanting to suggest that both approaches try to overplay the hand available. I’ve come to a place of thinking that, NO, God did not abandon His Son at that moment, but that, YES, it could certainly seem to Jesus that He had.

      Psalm 22 is a psalm like many others that David wrote, in which he cries out to God about being abandoned, being ignored, being left behind, being given over to evil men. But in those psalms, David always comes back to his faith that God would do no such thing, that God is always faithful, always watching, always ready to save, no matter what it feels like at the time.

      In the full embrace of the horror of the cross, Jesus cries out in anguish because, like David, it certainly FEELS like God has abandoned him, But, like David, it’s a cry of the moment, not a statement of theology.

      Anyway, that’s how I’m seeing it.

    • C Barton

      Three things:
      1) Jesus definitely made it clear that no one takes his life, but that he gives it freely in obedience to the Father; as one points out, such a severe act seems justified by the rewards (our souls), and shows God’s fervent love for us in a tangible, albeit shocking, way.
      2) There’s nothing wishy-washy, in my Book, about a God who requires mercy, justice, and perfect obedience, yet knows none of us can accomplish all these. That’s why fire-breathing guys like Albert Finney are just making noise: salvation by grace is God’s plan – His intention: we broke His creation through our works, so He mended it exclusively through His work on the cross, in order to silence any talk of man’s merit berfore Him.
      3) Apostle Paul metions mysteries, which can be defined as those things which God alone reveals to us in His Word. These are the things that we, as men, cannot “figure out” on our own – at some point we must trust what God says as truth, post-modern, or not.

    • Concerning the Atonement, there is really no strict “dogma”! The Death of Christ, in reality is certainly more existential and experential than we like to admit, especially as Protestants. But the Church, at its Councils, has never made a definite pronouncement with regard to this doctrine. For myself, I have learned that I must approach the Death of Christ and the Atonement from the point of experience, of living emotional and regenerative experience! But, indeed the historic reality is Jesus, died as ‘King of the Jews’, this was the title above His head, nailed, as He was to the Cross! And we hear Pilate say, Ecce Homo – Behold the Man, just before.. as Pilate himself says: “Take Him yourselves and crucify Him, for I find no fault or guilt in Him.” And let us be sure, that the Jewish leadership said, after Pilate said, “do you wish then that I release for you the King of the Jews?” But they said, “Not this Man, but Barabbas.” And yet, as we know the SIN is all of ours!

    • C Barton

      An interesting sidelight to Pilate’s penmanship is that he literally said, “What I have written will stay written . . “, as though it were written by prophecy. And the fact that the four initial letters of Jesus’ title in Hebrew are Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh (Name of God) is probably not coincidence!
      In John 3:16, Jesus spoke of those who would believe in Him . . . apparently an exhaustive understanding of His work on the cross is not an absolute requisite for salvation.

    • Amen there C. Barton! The Death and Name of JESUS (Savior) are bound together! We will spend an eternity before all of this! It is quite obvious to anyone who spends time before the Word, both the Rema and Logos, that GOD’s Redemption ‘In Christ’ is stupendous!

    • C Barton

      Thanks, Fr. Robert, yet oops! In my post no. 2, I cited Albert Finney – this should read Charles G. Finney, who was an ardent enemy of Sola Fide (Also, thanks to Dr. C. Missler for insight about Pilate’s actions).
      Anyway, Apostle Paul, and many others, make it clear that redemption includes but is not limited to salvation. It’s not just a get-out-of-jail-free ard: it’s also a get-a-new-life-like-Jesus portfolio; and the final touches will be made by the Lord, Himself. Sure, we participate in our own sanctification, but perfection is His master stroke.
      God’s eagerness to show mercy in Christ is exemplified by His statement to the man on the crucifix next to Him.
      Even so, sometimes it can be difficult to discern between legalism of a “dead” law and obedience of a “Live” spirit, in Christ.

    • But thanks be to God, the fruit of righteousness always follows true faith & obedience! This is the essence of the Letter of James, and James of course is Canon!

    • Phil McCheddar

      I like your article, Dan – thank you!

      Why do you think Jesus expressed his God-forsakenness in the form of a question? I know he was quoting set words that were already cast in the form of a question, but was Jesus at that point unaware that he was carrying the world’s guilt and suffering the effects of God’s wrath, including separation from his Father? Or was he merely using the familiar words of Psalm 22:1 as a convenient way to express the fact of being separated, despite the potential for misleading bystanders into thinking he was puzzled? Why didn’t Jesus merely say “My God, you have now abandoned me” to describe his experience?

    • Paul Owen

      It would obviously take up more space here than the constraints would allow to comment on all the passages which Wallace cites, and I am very much an admirer of Wallace’s scholarship, but I could not disagree more. I would encourage people to take a look at Pope Benedict XVI, Introduction to Christianity, pp. 281-93 and Thomas Torrance, The Mediation of Christ, pp. 42-45.

      I find it ironic that the very passage which is so often cited in supported of the penal-substitutionary view of the atonement, actually excludes that particular theory, and marks it as a failure to understand the mystery of the Servant’s sacrifice: “yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.” That is precisely what we are NOT supposed to conclude!

    • Mark Ducharme

      Nice illustration of the flaws inherit to creating one’s own, home made, Gospel. I would only add, or summarize, that “we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:4) and, we “are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.” Colossians 2:12

      THAT^ is why we are baptized in His name & His name alone – just like the Bible says – & that’s why NOT ONE apostle (or any baptized by them) was baptized any other way. As He said in John 2:19, “Destroy this temple, and in three days *I* will raise it up.”, so does He, God, raise US up to be the sons of God. For we know, God has made Him “both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). And THAT is why He proclaims, no less than four times each in Revelation, that He IS “Alpha & Omega”, “First & last” & “Beginning & end” 3 times.

    • Indeed, I do not believe the “Father” ever was separated from the Son, an ontological problem to say the least. But, He, Christ, was somehow separated from GOD, and deity, within himself, and too His Father, as dying and incarnate. Surely a grand mystery! Here is where perhaps we should look at the Immutability of God. And as Luther said, somehow ‘God died on the Cross’! Of course only God Incarnate.

    • C Barton

      One idea I owe to my RC mother, who trained me in basic theology when I was young. The most horrible consequence (penalty) of sin is separation from God; not only from interaction with Him (as though a telephone line is broken), but from His sustaining presence as well (as though cut off from oxygen!).
      A prevailing tradition about Christ’s utterance is that He, as incarnate and loved by the Father, had to undergo the separation that we deserve in the flesh. If a blind man walks in darkness, he feels it not – if a seeing man is cut off from light, he will suffer deprivation. Jesus, as a man now imputed with our sins, experienced that deprivation the way we would, except that He could fully perceive the results – more terrifying, perhaps, than anything we could know.

    • @C Barton: I had most of my Catholic influence from my Irish great Aunts and Uncles, funny since my father was a scientist (moderate RC), and mum was just low key. But I had a PB (Plymouth Brethren greatgram), she was the “Bible” believer, and could quote whole chapters of the KJV! She was a great influence on me! Died when I was 15. But I was close friends (for those days) with my Irish Augustinian (his order) priest, Fr. Sweeny, we talked alot, I asked him many questions over those years, from even before conformation, until about 20. He told me the best life was that of always being the faithful student, “faith seeking understanding”. And yes, I believe I will see him in the glory!

    • *confirmation (brain fade)

    • Irene

      I couldn’t agree more that this is such a mystery and beyond our understanding…how God could die.

      Here is part of a GK Chesterton poem I like…this part is about St Michael at the cross.

      When from the deeps a dying God astounded
      Angels and devils who do all but die,
      Seeing Him fallen where thou couldst not follow,
      Seeing Him mounted where thou couldst not fly,
      Hand on the hilt, thou hast halted all thy legions, 
      Waiting the Tetelestai and the acclaim, 
      Swords that salute Him dead and everlasting 
      God beyond God and greater than His Name.

    • My point was the loss of God’s cogitative presence on the cross, and even the Father’s sense of presence for or during the three hours darkness. But at the end, as He had “finished” or accomplished the work of redemption (John 19:30), He Christ, then, delivers Himself into His Father’s presence: “Father, into your hands I commit My Spirit.” (Lk. 23:46) But, not and never the loss of God’s ontology! Christ died at his time and moment!

    • Myself, I believe the Father was always with Christ, even when He Christ did not sense or feel the Father, and He Himself experiences the loss of God’s “cogitative” presence, when He cries out Psalm 22:1.

    • Matt O'Reilly

      Hi Dan, thanks for this response to Hsu. I’ve written recently on this as well at Asbury Seedbed in agreement with Hsu that the Father did not turn his back on the Son as he hung on the cross. I don’t see this undestanding of Jesus quote from Ps 22 as necessarily rejecting penal substitution, as you seem to think. So, having written on this myself, I’ve posted a response on my own site that is probably too lengthy for a comment here. Here’s the link:
      I’d love to hear your thoughts, if you are inclined to offer them. Again, thanks for your work and thoughtful approach to this matter

      Matt O’Reilly
      First United Methodist Church,
      Union Springs, AL

    • Karen

      Here are some things I love to ponder: where Jesus during the Last Supper (John 15:9) stated that “As the Father hath loved Me,…” and Jesus also said unless He go away the Holy Spirit cannot come…and I think about the Cross where on Jesus died, and realize in James 2:26, it says a spirit cannot live in a dead body…

      I can definitely see a view of the ultra pain and suffering the Godhead went through at the time that Jesus died on the cross.

      That is why I believe we have Rev Chapter One where it repeats in various ways of the Godhead: the One Who Is, the One Who Was, and the One Who Is to Come. It is none other than God Almighty, Yahweh, King of kings and Lord of lords…Jesus…Yahweh is Salvation…as it says in Matthew, Jesus is coming in the Glory of the Father.

    • Zion

      A. God forsook Jesus
      B. God was separated from Jesus, and
      C. God hid His face from Jesus

      Hsu rejects B and C, and therefore rejects A. But he makes a good point about referring to Ps 22. B and C do not necessarily follow A. Instead B and C come from Is 59:1-2: “Look, the Lord’s hand is not too weak to deliver you; his ear is not too deaf to hear you. But your sinful acts have alienated you from your God; your sins have caused him to reject you and not listen to your prayers.”

      A. God forsook Jesus. Yes. God is the One who “did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all” (Rom 8:32). But God forsook Jesus, I believe, in the sense of “why art thou so far from helping me”? (Ps 22:1) God delivered Jesus up to death and did not stop the suffering.

      B. Many have noted that the Trinity cannot separate. Consider also that the Jesus offered Himself through the eternal spirit. (Hebrews 9:14) The offering was at death, when Jesus called “Father”.


    • Zion

      C. The Bible never explicitly says that God hid His face from Jesus. The reference to Is 59:2 does not need to refer to Jesus. It talks about how God did not answer the prayers of the sinning Israelites. That is stating a principle, but did it apply to Jesus’ case? First, Ps 22:24 states that God did *not* hide His face from Him. And second, Heb 5:7 says that God heard His prayers. I recall reading in Part II of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress (1684), but I can’t find the quote, about God hiding His face from Jesus, so the idea is very old, but is not from the four gospels.

      What’s really amazing is that B and C often become the focus of some people’s meditation about Christ’s sufferings, even though it comes from a passage (Is 59:1-2) that is not explicitly about Christ. It’s as if the cross was not suffering enough.

    • Steve Meikle

      Have you noticed how when the world offers a new version of anything it is bigger, shinier, has more features, bells whistles and delivers more bang for your buck?

      But not so with their new version of God. He, or should I say it, is not bigger. He is in fact a little feller.

      He is too small to be holy, too small to be terrible, too small to be awesome, omnipotent, too small to in fact even be the love that they invoke in order to shrink Him down to the little feller they want. So he is too small to be of any use to anyone at all.

      In fact their God is too small to interest me. I get bored after contemplating this little guy for more than five minutes. . . .

      Now the Living God I have experienced according to the scriptures . . **there** is someone I can be awed at, even to the extend of falling on my face before Him and repenting as He leads .

      They want a theology that is good. But they do not have that. I do, and my brethren who believe in the real God of the scriptures

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