"What sort of God was this, getting so angry with the world and the people he created and then, to calm himself down, demanding the blood of his own son?" Dr John said.
"And anyway, why should God forgive us through punishing somebody else? It was worse than illogical, it was insane. It made God sound like a psychopath. If any human being behaved like this, we would say they were a monster.
"Well, I haven't changed my mind since. That explanation of the cross just doesn't work but sadly, it's one that's still all too often preached."
Source: Telegraph (via Kill the Afterlife)
These comments come from Jeffrey John, the Dean of St. Albans who was forced out of his post as Bishop of Reading in 2003 when it was revealed that he was gay. He wasn't sexually active, but many Anglicans didn't care — the mere fact that experienced attraction towards men was sufficient to declare him unfit for such a high church post.
I wonder if his experiences as a gay man in such a homophobic atmosphere have played any role in his willingness to take a stand against Christianity's traditional but brutal conception of God? It's possible, but ultimately irrelevant to the quality of his argument: punishing someone else in order to forgive us for our misdeeds is exceptionally immoral — and the manner in which the punishment had to be meted out not only makes this god even more immoral, but also far more violent. Such a god is a psychopath, at best, but what does this say about the Christians who insist on defending that god?
Bishop Broadbent said: ..."You cannot read the Old Testament and New Testament and blank out an entirety of language and concept and understanding that means that we are guilty sinners, we need our sins to be paid for and we need Jesus Christ to die for us. That is what the Creeds say, it is what the Bible says and you cannot rewrite them. You cannot understand Jesus Christ without understanding Old Testament atonement material."
Bishop Benn added that "the truth that Jesus died as our sin-bearing substitute carrying the punishment for our sins on the cross is the glorious heart of the Gospel. It displays the love of God: Father, Son and Spirit, for us. To deny or vilify that is a tragic denial of the power and heart of the Gospel. I hope Jeffrey John will speedily reconsider and repent of his attack on apostolic Christianity."
Complaints have been made that John's comments are heretical, and perhaps they are — he is making statements that are contrary to traditional, orthodox Christianity. The problem isn't with John, though, it's the fact that traditional, orthodox Christianity demands that we worship a violent, brutal, insane, psychopathic deity in order to avoid having this deity exercise that insanity by brutalizing us for all eternity in its spacious torture chamber. It's no more "glorious" that someone else was crucified for our misdeeds than it is "glorious" that people are to be tortured for eternity for nothing more than mere disbelief.