A few days ago I was skimming over John Piper's blog (he's a popular Calvinist author, pastor, and writer) and I noticed his post for March 18, 2014 contained an outrageous comment regarding Our Lord's Passion and Death. I didn't read the whole post since it was an odd mixture of thoughts, but his conclusion caught my eye just because it was so outrageous:
When Jesus cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” it was the scream of the damned — damned in our place (Isaiah 53:5–6; Romans 8:3; Galatians 3:14). If we will repent and trust him, no Esau, no lesbian, no president, no pastor, no person will be condemned. Our sight and our reason will return to us.
This isn't the first time Piper has said such things about Jesus being "damned in our place," as I've recorded such comments of his in prior articles, but I wanted to post on this just for the record that he's still saying this stuff even today. And Calvinists really don't mind, because they agree that what he's saying is what the Protestant understanding of the Cross is all about: Jesus enduring the hellfire damnation that we deserved to endure, substituting himself to be punished in our place, also known as Penal Substitution.
For those of us not caught up in Calvinism, to hear that Jesus was "damned in our place" should sound alarm bells in our head, because this is saying that the Son was cut-off from God the Father, which is rank heresy. It's just blasphemy to say for God so loved the world that He damned His only-begotten Son. It's unacceptable. Now these Calvinists don't intend to be teaching Christological heresy when they say these things, but the fact is they are. Sadly, many of them try to excuse themselves by saying things like 'well, the Bible teaches it,' which is just ridiculous because heresy is heresy and shouldn't be rationalized.
And the claim that the Bible teaches PSub has been debunked on this blog and elsewhere so many times that nobody should even fall for that line. I just wish Calvinists would get more educated on that matter. Before ending this article, I want to briefly look at the verses Piper quoted to show just how desperate Calvinists are to find this pet doctrine of theirs in the Bible when in fact the Bible doesn't come anywhere close to it. Here are the passages Piper brought up:
- Matthew 27:46 - "My God, why have you forsaken me." - This is a text Calvinists cling to most dearly because it's the only scrap of hope in all 4 Gospels they can even find to even hint that God damned His Son. I've dealt with this numerous times, so all I will say is that Piper and Calvinists don't even taken into consideration the context of Jesus saying this and the fact Jesus was directly quoting Psalm 22, which is about how God doesn't rescue a person from persecutions. And if this is the most definitive proof that God damned Jesus, someone forgot to tell Luke and John, because they didn't include this quote in their Gospels.
- Isaiah 53:5-6 - "Pierced for our transgressions . . . the Lord laid upon him the iniquity of us all." - Where does this say Jesus was damned? Calvinists have to read so much into these texts that it's scary how they get away with it and justify it. Jesus was obviously "pierced" by the nails on the Cross, done by the Romans. This isn't rocket science. And the Lord laying upon Jesus our sins doesn't mean the Lord damned Jesus for our sins. Again, pure desperation. I've written about the Protestant misunderstanding of Isaiah 53 numerous times also, so all I will say is that Calvinists really haven't done their homework, which is a shame.
- Romans 8:3 - "Sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh." - The footnote to the ESV says "for sin" refers to "for a sin offering," which is correct. So this text is saying God sent His Son to take on our humanity and to be a sin offering, and by doing this God dealt with our sin. The Calvinist wants to read this as God giving His Son a human body so that His Son was now capable of suffering damnation. That's totally unwarranted and reading a lot of assumptions into the text, just as I noted above. All that's being said is how the Son took on a human body to make atonement for our sins. This wouldn't even be an issue if Calvinists understood what "sin offering" even meant, and especially if they knew that to 'make atonement' never involves transferring a punishment.
- Galatians 3:13-14 - "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us." - The Calvinist assumes that "curse" here refers to damnation, which isn't supported by the Bible at all. The "curse" of the Mosaic Law which Christ redeemed us from isn't damnation, and we know this is speaking of the Mosaic Law because that's the next thing Paul quotes. The "curse" is clearly shown to be a humiliating death by crucifixion, being publicly displayed as a criminal. We know the Romans did this to Jesus, not the Father. I've written about this before also, if people are interested.
I've said this many times, but you'd think that for a doctrine so crucial as PSub that there would be very clear Biblical proof of God pouring out His wrath upon Jesus, damning His Son in our place. It's proof-texting like this that I've found to be the bedrock of Calvinist theology, taking a verse here and there and projecting all kinds of assumptions on it without regard for context or cross-referencing with more clear texts. It's just sad. And it's examples like this that completely debunk the Protestant lie that "Catholics don't care about the Bible," because we do care about the Bible very much, so much that we don't allow this kind of shoddy exegesis get a free pass.