Samuel Rutherford on God's forsaking of Christ

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Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
[F]or there were just causes why the Lord, at this time, should forsake his Son Christ. And therefore the forsaking of Christ was real; because grounded upon justice. The elect had forsaken God, Christ stood in their place, to bear their iniquities, Isai. 53. that is, the punishment which the elect should have suffered eternally in hell, for their own iniquities: And in justice God did for a time forsake his Son Christ, not only in sense and apprehension, but really.

Samuel Rutherford, Christ dying and drawing sinners to himself (London, 1647), pp 63-4.


Puritan Board Junior
Daniel, I must confess that this is problematic to me. I have heard preachers state
that when Christ cried in prayer "My God, why hast thou forsaken me" etc, that it was a cry of dereliction,
and that God abandoned Him, and turned His face from Him.
The difficulty I have is, that continuing in Psalm 22 it is written, "For He hath not despised nor abhorred the
affliction of the afflicted ; neither hath He hid His face from Him; but when He cried unto Him, He heard."
Up till now I have been satisfied with Owen's statement, that God suspended for a while the comfort of
His presence and support. (this is from memory). It is obvious that God cannot forsake God, so it must
be the human nature that missed that comfort. If you can throw more light on it then please do.


Puritan Board Junior
I heard Sinclair Ferguson and Ligon Duncan discuss and make an important distinction about this very thing. They said (something like) that God poured out His wrath and forsook the savior/substitute and not on the second person of the Trinity. This can be seen for free on Ligonier's website in the 2004 Conference A Portrait of God in either the 2nd or 3rd Q&A session. These descriptions are consistent with our creeds, particularly Chalcedon regarding the two natures, distinct, yet joined in a hypostatic union.


Puritanboard Amanuensis
If you can throw more light on it then please do.

Perhaps it is best to let Rutherford explain his own sense. In qualifying his statement he made the following observation (p. 73, 1803 ed.):

I know there is a forsaking in God, joined with hatred: God neither in this sense forsook Christ, nor did Christ complain of this forsaking. God's forsaking of him, was in regard of the influence of actual vision. 2. Of the actual joy and comfort of union. 3. Of the penal inflicting of the curse, wrath, sorrow, sadness, stripes, death, on the man Christ.
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