This week so far has been the most reflective of mine in recent years. The implications of the cross of Christ are so far-reaching, no wonder Paul sought not only to proclaim it but to protect it as well (1 Cor. 1:17-25). But some have found the proclamation of a “bloody” cross to be too scandalous. They are offended by it.
“For the first thousand years or so of church history, the metaphor of victory in battle, Jesus conquering death, was the central, dominant understanding of the cross. And then at other times and in other places, other explanations have been more heavily emphasized.
This is especially crucial in light of how many continue to use the sacrificial metaphor in our modern world. There’s nothing wrong with talking and singing about how the “Blood will never lose its power” and “Nothing but the blood will save us.” Those are powerful metaphors. But we don’t live any longer in a culture in which people offer animal sacrifices to the gods. People did live that way for thousands of years, and there are pockets of primitive cultures around the world that do continue to understand sin, guilt, and atonement in those ways. But most of us don’t. What the first Christians did was look around them and put the Jesus story in language their listeners would understand.” (Rob Bell, Love Wins, pp. 128-29, bold added)
While others continue to shout, “Cosmic Child Abuse,” because they see Christ penal substitution through the shedding of his own “blood” as “a personal act of violence perpetrated by God toward human kind but borne by His Son”—it seems like Rob Bell is taking a sort of a back door approach, a sort of a subtle approach, to remove the scandal that is the cross of Christ.
But we can’t!
We dare not!
Christ death on the cross, the shedding of his blood, to take our place, must not be trifled with, must not be messed with.
Yes, in Paul’s day, to proclaim Christ crucified was a scandal to the Jews and folly to the Gentiles (1 Cor. 1:23). And this is the case for a growing number in our own day.
But we still need to understand in vivid terms what our sins cost and what the love of God looks like. So yes, we need to continue to sing, “There is power in the blood…”
Now back to our question, Is this an example of removing the scandal of the cross? I say, yes.