Does Jesus Condemn People? NO!

Okay, okay, the title might be a little too strong. I do believe that Jesus is the righteous judge of the world and that we will all stand before Him to give an accounting, and that based on the judgment of Jesus, some will be eternally separated from God… So don’t rake me over the coals too much for that title….

I am only wrote that title in connection to Romans 8:34 due to a comment that was left on someone else’s blog about my recent series on God, violence, and evil. Here is what happened:

Peter Kirk recently posted a quote from one of my blog posts (if you do this, let me know so I can come interact with your readers!), and one of the people who left comments strongly disagreed with my ideas, and quoted Romans 8:34 this way: “Who is it that condemns? Christ Jesus…”

Whoa!

Is that a verse which says that Jesus Christ does actually condemn people? When I saw that verse, I blinked and shook my head and thought, “Really? How could I have missed that all these years?”

Jesus done not condemnSo I went and looked it up.

And guess what? The devil is in the dots. The problem is with the ellipses (…).

I know we all use them, but always be wary of Scripture quotations that include ellipses.

In Romans 8:34, Paul is not answering his question and saying that Jesus Christ condemns. No! Exactly the opposite. Paul is saying Jesus Christ is the only one who could condemn, but far from condemning anyone, Jesus died for us and intercedes for us! This is the only way to make Roman 8:34 fit with Romans 8:1.

Romans 8:34 should be understood this way: “Who is he who condemns? Jesus Christ is the only one who could, but He doesn’t! Instead, he died for us, and rose again from the dead, and now intercedes for us at the right hand of God the Father in heaven!”

Beautiful! Far from condemning humanity, Jesus loves us, died for us, and now intercedes for us!

Look, I know that not everybody will agree with the theory I am proposing about how to understand the violence of God in the Old Testament (see the link list at the bottom of this post).

I just have never been satisfied with any of the proposals for how to reconcile the violence of God in the Old Testament with the self-sacrificial love of Jesus. My proposal from fifteen years ago is still the only way that helps me view God the same way I view Jesus while still maintaining the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture.

While I know that my proposal wreaks havoc on many traditional ways of reading some biblical passages, please know that just as with Romans 8:34, I am aware of these texts and simply understand them in a different light — in the light of the love and beauty of the crucified Christ.

I know that the burden of proof lies upon me to show how my thesis fits with Scripture, but I am beginning to think that the real burden of proof lies upon those who want to maintain that God is violent despite all the evidence to the contrary in the life, ministry, and teachings of Jesus Christ, and especially in what He did for the entire world on the cross.

Though my thesis might be difficult to prove, it seems impossible to reconcile the bloody and violent God of the Old Testament with the loving, forgiving, and self-sacrificial God revealed in Jesus Christ. And I am not saying they are different Gods – they are One and the same! We just have to read about God in the Old Testament through the lens of Jesus and what He did on the cross.

That is what I am trying to do in this series, and I hope you will continue to stick with me through the ride! Very soon we will begin looking at some of the difficult texts like the Flood and the 10 Plagues.

God of the Old Testament and JesusThis post is part of my ongoing series on how to understand the violence of God in the Old Testament. Specifically, I am trying to answer this question:

How can a God who says "Love your enemies" (Matthew 5:44) be the same God who instructs His people in the Old Testament to kill their enemies?

To see what I am arguing so far, click here.

Also, when I am done with this series of posts, I will be publishing them as a book. If you want a free digital copy of this book when it comes out, make sure you have subscribed to my email newsletter.


Comments

  1. says

    I love how you guys interact with each other in such gracious ways over such controversial topics! I LOVE IT! I wish we all lived closer to each other and could hang out….

    Anyway, I am not sure what the afterlife holds for those who are eternally separated from God, but I do not think it is full of torture as many church leaders depict. There are images of flames and burning in the NT, but these are often symbolic, I think, for something else.

    I will try to include a section in the future on hell, but until then, don’t really know what I am going to say about it…. I suspect I may say something something similar to what Altair brought up, and the view of CS Lewis.

    • mark b. says

      Ditto on the: “I wish we all lived closer to each other and could hang out…” Jeremy!

      For now we will just have to wait on the Lord… for His timing and provision for our gathering, eh? Soon and very soon, we’re goin’ to see the King!

      Re: your comment: “for those who are eternally separated from God, but I do not think it is full of torture”…?

      Personally, I don’t understand how one can hold both of those two statements as true. For, to be separated from God (esp. “eternally”) IS (and would be) torture… for me. It would mean darkness, despair, guilt and fear, etc.

      Anyway, looking forward to your thoughts (and the resulting discussion) re: “a section in the future on hell”.

      No pressure, eh? Just wrap up this little O.T. thing ASAP… KIDDING!
      Love you (as a bro. in the Lord), and all the others interacting,
      Peace is yours,
      M.

      • says

        I see what you are saying. Yes, that eternal separation from God does seem like torture in a way, especially since we were created to be with God.

        I just cannot embrace universalism or annihilationism…

  2. Ragan says

    I am LOVING this theory of yours. My atheist husband really pushes me up against a wall with examples of our OT God and it has really shook my own faith. He makes tremendous points and I start wondering if I have been fooled. I am not sure if you will be able to address/explain all the acts of violence in the OT, but I am really hoping you do. I am eagerly waiting.

  3. Emilio Gomez says

    Annihilationism makes perfect sense if you believe in a loving God. The wicked will be thrown in the lake of fire and be gone forever.
    It does appear from certain verses in Rev that some will burn for a while before they are completely consumed but in the end they will be ashes. There are dozens and dozens of verses in the OT that speak to this while there is not one that hints to a hell of everlasting torment.

    Edward Fudge has several good books that explain this quite clearly.

    Burning for 5000 trillion years and then another and another… is incomprehensible from a God who has outlined justice for man in the OT. The worse crimes were punished with death.

    Another good book is “Is there Death after Life” by John Schoenheit

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