In “Truth and Grace” – 1917

The world has always had, and has today, a special dislike for the cross of Christ, which represents the sacrifice and atonement for our sins. The word of the cross is ‘to them that perish foolish­ness’ (1Cor.1:18). Today the severest attacks on Christianity are directed against the blood atonement. “It is barbarous,” says one; “It is unjust,” says another. A third declares that he would worship no such God as would punish an innocent Jesus for sins committed by other men. And so forth.

It has had its effect, too. Many preachers, if not most preachers, have so let themselves be brow­beaten by the world’s clamor that they have lost all heart to preach this doctrine, and numerous theories have been invented to account for the Scripture statements of it in such a way as to avoid giving offense to the world. The world’s religion is like that of its proto­type, Cain, bloodless. It scouts the teaching of such passages as Isaiah 53:-10; Romans 3:25; 5:9; Hebrews 9:14; 1 Peter 2:24; 1 John 1:7. And so do all the worldly religions which parade as some sort of Christianity – Unitarianism, Universalism, Christian Science, and the like.




Behind all the avowed distaste for, and alleged unreasonable­ness of this doctrine of the cross, there is a truer reason why the world and worldly Christians hate it. It is uncomplimentary and uncomfortable. Uncomplimentary it is, because if Jesus must perish so cruelly for our sake, the implication is very unfavorable to our pride and self-righteousness. Men must have been, and apart from the blood of Christ, must yet be, in very bad case if such an extreme thing is needed to save them. But this they are far from willing to admit. They are ‘not so bad’, they are, in fact, very good, and have great faith in the goodness of human nature.


But the cross implies exactly the opposite. It is also an un­comfortable doctrine; for if God did so insist upon righteousness, if a satisfaction must be provided to fulfill the demands of His righteous law even at the expense of His Son’s life before we could be saved, it shows no such slushy sentimentality in God’s love as the world has dared to hope, but that His love and His holiness walk hand in hand, and that His very mercy affirms His wrath against sin; that God is faithful to fulfill, not only His promise, but also every threat of penalty. And that kind of belief, to an ease-loving, fleshly-minded generation, is entirely too uncomfortable. So they vent their irritation at it by saying it represents God as a tyrant and a monster.


But nowhere does God’s exceeding love and mercy so stand out as in this blood doctrine — love infinite, and whole-souled, yet in terrible earnestness and unswerving righteousness.

-R. H. Boll was Editor of Word & Work (1916-1956)