Does Christianity Teach Cosmic Child Abuse?

The Christian message is about Jesus Christ:

  • willingly choosing to die on a Roman cross to take the punishment for the sins of all people in the world
  • then afterwards rising from death in order to hold out the hope of forgiveness and eternal life to all who believe.

All Christians believe this message in some form. Yet, some Christians have issues with the inner workings of this message, and how the atonement (the reconciliation of God and man) plays out.

“How … have we come to believe that at the cross this God of love suddenly decides to vent his anger and wrath on his own Son? The fact is that the cross isn’t a form a child abuse – a vengeful Father, punishing his Son for an offence he has not even committed.”[1]

Emotional arguments like this are pretty charged. Yet – when you recover from the emotional hit, I think the issues in hand are clear. Christianity does not teach cosmic child abuse in any way for the following reasons.

FIRST – each horrific instance of child abuse involve an unwilling victim receiving pain and abuse for the gratification of the abuser.

Yet the biographies of Jesus record that he went to his death willingly, in full knowledge of what this task would involve. For example, on one occasion his friend Peter tried to deter Jesus from taking his path of suffering, and Jesus response to him was stark. “Get behind me Satan!”[2] Another time, Jesus stated his purpose clearly. “I lay down my life – only to take it up again. No-one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.”[3]

Yes Jesus suffered, but not in the way that is being claimed. “Child abuse is carried out against the will of the victim for the sole gratification of the abuser; Jesus willingly went to his death to save his people and glorify his name.”[4]

SECOND – the Bible teaches that the death of Jesus was about bringing glory to himself and to save us. These are very specific, cosmically positive reasons. So, it is a very different scenario from abuse for the sole gratification of the abuser. “But Christ demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”[5]


The claim that Christianity teaches cosmic child abuse – does not fit with the biographical data we have. So it seems pretty irresponsible to suggest that the Christian church teaches it. But – it might actually be more than irresponsible.

Consider the way Jesus rebuked Peter from trying to change his mind about going to the cross to die. Peter was just trying to let Jesus off the hook. These child abuse claimants, however, are using particularly pejorative and objectionable language. Jesus rebuked Peter in a strong way. How much more would Jesus rebuke claimants of “cosmic child abuse,” who muddy the waters for the Christian message?

After all…their claims seem to have a real tinge of blasphemy about them.



[1] Steve Chalk and Alan Mann, The Lost Message of Jesus (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003), 182.

[2] Mark 8:33.

[3] John 10:17-18.

[4] Steve Jefferey, Mike Ovey and Andrew Sach, Pierced for Our Transgressions Rediscovering the Glory of Penal Substitution, (Nottingham: IVP, 2007), 130

[5] Romans 5:8.

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I live in the UK, I'm married to Janet and I'm passionate about proposing a case for the historic Christian faith. You can find me on Twitter at @stuhgray.

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