The doctrine of atonement for sin is—or at least has been—at the center of Christian faith and practice since Jesus’s earthly ministry. But in recent days, various voices have raised objections to the cross. Musician Michael Gungor called the atonement “evil” and “horrific” on Twitter, decrying a God who would mandate blood sacrifice for sin. William Paul Young, author of the 20-million-copy-selling The Shack, concurs. In his new Lies We Believe About God, Young says of Christ’s death:
Who originated the Cross?…If God did, then we worship a cosmic abuser, who in Divine Wisdom created a means to torture human beings in the most painful and abhorrent manner. Frankly, it is often this very cruel and monstrous god that the atheist refuses to acknowledge or grant credibility in any sense. And rightly so. Better no god at all, than this one.
Don’t miss this: The most popular Christian writer in our time labels the biblical God a “cosmic abuser.” Ancient false teaching returns.
Young’s scorching anti-God, anti-cross formulation comes in a chapter titled “The Cross Was God’s Idea.” According to Young, it’s a lie we believe about God that our Father sent his Son to die for us. We cannot miss how strong an attack this is on biblical theology. Young guts the cross of its sacrificial nature, though he maintains it’s a display of justice: “[W]hile evil is never justified, it is redeemed and rescued from its intent, thus becoming a statement of true justice.”