A Bloodless Soteriology
To be fair on Daniel Erlander, though he dismisses the Passover with the one-liner, “Before they left the slaves ate a special meal called Passover”. he does mention that, “The worship of the partner people included the offering of sacrifices, ……” and that this, “ served as a way for restoring the divine-human relationship,” (P15) and that Jesus’ Body and Blood is, “given and shed for all for the forgiveness of sin.” P54.
So this critique really relates to Alan Storey’s clip under the Manna & Mercy banner entitled “Why did Jesus die?”
In this he makes the statement that Jesus died as the ultimate expression of His love.
This statement is manifestly true. Who would dispute this.
However he also makes the statement that God didn’t send Jesus to die. It could not possibly be the will of a loving father that his son should die. He illustrates this with an account of how his father encouraged him not to retaliate when bullied, which resulted in his getting a ‘blood nose’. Did my father want me to not retaliate? The answer: “Yes”, Did he want me to get a blood nose? The answer “Noooo.” Q.E.D.
He delivers this piece of homespun logic with compelling homiletic passion, but unfortunately neglects considerations of God’s sovereignty and omniscience, not to mention flying in the face of numerous texts.
For example Isaiah 53 reads as follows in verse 10:
Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush Him;He has put Him to grief when He makes His soul an offering for guilt…”
And verse 11
“…and He shall make many to be accounted righteous and He shall bear their iniquities”
“The Lamb of God was slain before the foundation of the world.” Would be another relevant text.
Lest one is inclined to dismiss these as mere ‘proof texts’ one needs to consider them against the entire metanarative of the Bible.
This could be summed up as, “Mercy triumphing over justice in the person of Jesus.”
The difficulty with a soteriology which is simply anchored in Jesus’ loving and pacific response to the worst that man can do, is that it regards any reference to 'the blood' as incidental to the central issue of atonement.
From Genesis to Revelation the principle that, “Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin,” is underscored countless times culminating in Jesus as “the perfect sacrifice offered once for all,” (Heb Chapter10.)
These texts would include:
God making clothes of animal skins to replace the fig leavesGod accepting Abel’s sacrifice not Cain’s
Noah’s sacrifice of animals on emerging from the ark
Abraham sacrificing the ram on Mount Moriah
The Levitical system of sacrifices – very gory affairs: blood everywhere
The list is endless, but reaches it’s ultimate fulfillment in Jesus’ gruesome utterance that, “Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you shall not have life within you.”
This statement is interpreted fully in the book of Hebrews, and lands ultimately in Revelation where the great multitude from every nation, tribe and people are wearing robes that have been ‘washed white in the blood of the Lamb.’
Also, while one can certainly agree wholeheartedly with Alan that God’s forgiveness is extended to all, he makes no mention that this gracious offer is appropriated by faith.
Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus……...let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith ( Heb. 10. 19,22)
Was it God’s will that Jesus should die?
How else can one interpret His prayer in Gethsemane?
“If it be thy will, let this cup pass from me, nevertheless not my will but thine be done.”
With no word from the Father that the cup might be permitted to pass, the Son sets His face resolutely towards the bloody agony of the cross. No mere blood nose this.
From the Cross He will reign as King of Kings with crown of thorn -
From the Cross, as the spotless Lamb of God, He will offer up the perfect sacrifice once for all, taking on Himself the penalty of our sin that we might go free.
“’Tis mystery all, the Immortal dies,
Who can explore His strange design,”
A bloodless soteriology is no soteriology at all.