Jesus Did What?
Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures. – 1 Corinthians 15:3 (NRSV)
“Jesus died for me/us” is one of Christianity’s foundations. It means Jesus’ death was both caused by human corruption and evil and is the means of releasing humans from the burden of our wrongs.
There is at least one troubling distortion of this message. Instead of “Jesus died for me/us,” some say, “Jesus died instead of me/us.” Yikes.
According to this twisted view, you and I deserve the violent, agonizing death that Jesus suffered. However, instead of targeting us, God unloaded on Jesus who took the hit on our behalf and on behalf of all humanity.
That might sound like a “Thank you, Jesus!” moment, but it puts God and Christianity in a very ugly light. A theology of abuse is an abusive theology.
I believe any theology that is based in fear and justifies violence, even allegedly Christian theology, is anti-Christ. God did not harm Jesus instead of you. Jesus never explained his death that way. That’s not who God is.
Jesus died to expose the ugliness and ultimate failure of human violence and rose again to reveal the greater love of God. That is all.
God, forgive us and heal us from our harmful ways, beginning with abusive theologies.
Matt Laney is the Senior Pastor of Virginia Highland Church UCC in Atlanta, GA and the author of Pride Wars, a fantasy series published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for Young Readers. The first two books, The Spinner Prince and The Four Guardians are available now.