Legal Gospel – C. Baxter Kruger

Baxter-Kruger-Photo-1aThe gospel typically preached by modern evangelicals begins with the statement that God is holy (holy in the legal sense). The human race has fallen into sin and is guilty before God. Since God is holy, He cannot allow sin to go unpunished—justice requires punishment. But since God is also loving, He sends Jesus Christ to take our place. On the cross, the guilt of the human race is placed upon Jesus Christ, and Jesus suffers the just punishment for our guilt. The cry of Jesus, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” is interpreted as the moment of moments when the Father, being too holy to look upon evil, turns His back upon His Son in utter abandonment. The Father forsakes His Son. That forsakenness, that abandonment and its unsearchable agony, is then interpreted as the punishment for our sins that satisfies God’s justice—in this legal or Evangelical model. The first disaster of this interpretation is that the work of Jesus Christ is turned on its head. The New Testament nowhere says that God was being reconciled in the work of Jesus; it says that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself (2 COR 5:18-19). As Paul insists, it was while we were utterly helpless, while we were sinners who had sold ourselves irretrievably into bondage and unwittingly set ourselves in opposition to God, that God acted to save us (ROM 5:6-10). But here, in the legal model, the order has been reversed, such that Jesus has come to save us not from ourselves and the catastrophe of Adam, but from God. Changing God has become the object of Christ’s work. If we ask the question, “Why did Jesus die?” then the answer that flows out of the legal framework is that he died so that God the Father would be different. Whereas the Trinitarian understanding sees Jesus sent by the Father to convert fallen Adamic existence to Himself, the legal model leaves us with a Jesus who comes to convert God!

Taken from Jesus and the Undoing of Adam  by Dr. C. Baxter Kruger.

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