“The Death Of Christ Was A Murder”: Jonathan Edwards And Blame For Christ’s Death -- By: Glenn R. Kreider

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 174:696 (Oct 2017)
Article: “The Death Of Christ Was A Murder”: Jonathan Edwards And Blame For Christ’s Death
Author: Glenn R. Kreider

“The Death Of Christ Was A Murder”:
Jonathan Edwards And Blame For Christ’s Death

Glenn R. Kreider

Glenn R. Kreider is Professor of Theological Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas.


In his sermon on John 10:18, “True and Voluntary Suffering” (April 1736), Jonathan Edwards claims that the soldiers who crucified Jesus murdered him. Yet Edwards also emphasizes that Jesus’s life was not taken from him without his permission. Prior to his death, Jesus claimed that he would lay down his life. As the God-man, Christ’s death was a priestly act, the free decision to give his life by submitting to the hands of the murderers, and through their unjust act, Jesus became the atoning sacrifice for sin.


The film The Passion of the Christ, which tells the story of the last twelve hours of Jesus’s life in graphic detail, reintroduced questions about responsibility for the death of Christ into popular discussions. In the months before and immediately after the film’s 2004 release, people were talking about it and the questions it raised. Those conversations have continued, particularly in interfaith dialogue and in Christian theology.1

In his article in Newsweek shortly before the film’s release, Jon Meacham asked the question that was on many minds: “Who killed

Jesus?”2 Meacham does not answer the question directly, since his essay largely reports on the controversy about the anti-Semitism some saw in the film, especially the rough cut.3 He concludes, “In the best of all possible worlds, ‘The Passion of the Christ’ will prompt constructive conversations about the origins of the religion that claims two billion followers around the globe, conversations that ought to lead believers to see that Christian anti-Semitism should be seen as an impossibility—a contradiction in terms. To hate Jews because they are Jews—to hate anyone, in fact—is a sin in the Christian cosmos, for Jesus commands his followers to love their neighbor as themselves.”4

Though Meacham does not answer the question posed in his article’s title, several evangelical writers have. In a book “written quickly to coincide with the release of the film,” John Piper asks and answers the question why Jesus died.You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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