Recently during a discussion I got smacked with the "Cosmic Child Abuse" argument. I had heard of it before, but never really had to wrestle with it in real life. I discovered that I don't actually have a satisfactory answer.

The situation: Assume Universal salvation for the sake of argument. So God loves everyone, is able to save everyone, is willing to save everyone, and will in actual fact save everyone. That's all well and good, but in order to save everyone, the father sent his son to be tortured on a cross and also (for the sake of argument) descend into the deepest depths of Hell and endure further ineffable tortures there too.

The problem: Doesn't this compromise both God's love and his justice? How was it loving for God to torture his own son? How was it just/fair for Jesus to take the punishment that we deserve?

Scope: I would be happy to hear apologetics from any tradition, seeing as this is a problem which plagues almost all if not all Christian traditions.

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    Many Christians would say that if God turned a blind eye to sin without a sacrifice , it would make him unjust. – aska123 Feb 24 '18 at 1:38
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    @Chuck Well to be fair, many universalists don't think that sin is much of a problem, and your question didn't mention sin at all either. The cosmic child abuse argument is usually leveled against penal substitutionary atonement believers, not universalists. – curiousdannii Feb 24 '18 at 8:32
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    How is it child abuse if Jesus is about 33 years old when he is crucified? This sounds to me like a dishonest premise is being thrown at you in the first place. – KorvinStarmast Feb 25 '18 at 22:35

According to the doctrine of the Trinity, Jesus being the Son of God means that He is fully God made manifest in human form (John 1:14). Jesus is simultaneously both fully God and fully man. As such, Jesus being crucified wasn't God sending someone else to be pusnished, but instead God taking the punishment Himself.

This, therefore, does not compromise God's love and justice, but instead is examplary of it. It is loving because God has saved us from punishment, and it is just because "as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousnessg leads to justification and life for all men." (Romans 5:18-21)


Cerulean Chelonii already covered my response (as a Trinitarian) by saying that Jesus Christ is God incarnate and thus that his death is an expression of pure love and mercy while also fulfilling the requirement of justice in that punishment for sin has been exacted.

However, from a Unitarian universalist perspective, the premise seems to be flawed anyway. Sure, God will save everyone, but by what means? By the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

“Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John‬ ‭14:6‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

The justice of the sacrifice can be justified simply in that Jesus underwent the punishment voluntarily. This is also consistent with God's love in that God did not force His son into anything.

Additionally, since sin entered the world through one man, it is just that one man ought to be able to save the world:

“For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.” (‭‭Romans‬ ‭5:17‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

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