Background of dr. Hans Burger’s theory about sacrifices


Rev. Dick de Jong at Dordrecht



On the website of brother H. van Dijk has posted a clear review on a theory about sacrifices  by Dr. Hans Burger, a researcher at the Liberated Reformed Theological University in Kampen. This contribution can be found on pages 50-65 of CRUCIAAL. The surprising significance of Jesus' crucifixion (Publisher Buijten & Schipperheijn Motif, Amsterdam).


Brother Van Dijk is rightly critical, and hence issued a timely warning against this (obviously futile) attempt to undermine the atoning power of the blood by our Saviour shed on the cross.


Why this theory about sacrifices?


In this article, I would like to comment on why Dr. Burger has come to his sacrifice theory. That theory comes down to this, that Christ is given us, by His Father, so that by his perfect devotion to his mission He would make it possible for us again to live with God in perfect devotion and love. That sounds good. However, Burgers theory does not mean  that Christ was sent by the Father to reconcile us with God through his blood which He shed on the cross. Such a cruel, bloodthirsty and immoral god we don’t have, he says. After all, with such a god you cannot reach contemporary Western people; that is not fitting for this time (in this way he writes  on pages 52 and 53).


All those bloody animal sacrifices, as they were offered in many religions, including those of the Old Testament,  they are offending to us. And then he dares to claim that even the Bible supports this critical attitude. For this he refers to the Psalms 40, 49, 50, and Jesus' critical attitude toward the temple service.

That Scripture and the Confessions teach that the bloody sacrifices and temple service were not abolished because of their bloody character, but fulfilled by Jesus' shedding of blood on the cross, it seems this Kampen theologian has never heard of it.


Culturally driven hermeneutics


It seems that Dr. Burger never read Article 25 of the Dutch Confession of Faith or at least has not understood it.

But here comes the cat out of the bag. His reasoning is exactly like that followed by the men/women report to the Synod of Ede. Just as in our contemporary culture we can not exclude women from the offices in the Church, so also we can not in our contemporary culture still preach that old blood theology; that is no longer credible.


This modern atonement criticism, as is clear on page 52, is fruit of a culturally-driven-authority-of-Scripture-subverting-hermeneutic. The conclusion being, the Father has not sent his Son to be crucified for our sins in  a bloody way, but his mission was to dedicate himself perfectly to his Father, and to make the same possible for us.


But how about His nevertheless being crucified? Why did this still have to be suffered by Him? That we read on page 63: the Father "foresees what the consequences will be when He sends His Son. It will result in the death of his dear Son" due to the unbelief and hatred of those who do not want His devotion to God.


So God did not decide the crucifixion as atonement for our sins; no, He only foresaw that it would happen as a result of human disbelief. It seems as if we hear the Remonstrants talk about election, not by God's decree, but on the basis foreseen human faith.

So it's not about the honour of the reigning God, but that man should be elevated to the throne.


Man on the throne


It is not God, but man to whom the throne belongs. This is readily apparent from the Introduction on pages 6-15, written by the editors of CRUCIAAL, Hans Burger and Reinier Sonneveld.


What is striking is that on the first two and a half pages ten times the word (core) experience occurs, but not once the word revelation (or its synonym). It's all about human experiences, which provide a deep understanding of God and lead to attempts to understand, but of which the crucifixion is one of the strangest experiences, and It is questionable whether one should explain that experience. The core experience of Christians is to know themselves again connected with  God, and attempts to explain  experiences even seem to desecrate those holy (!) experiences.


And yet, what it nevertheless comes to is this, "we can barely  leave our own experiences ‘wordless’,  let alone our core-experiences."  (wordless = without expressing them in words, DdJ)


What all this boils down to is that, according to these writers,  God's

revelation, his making Himself and His will known to us by and with his Spirit in the Scriptures, have to make way for the Holy Experiences of man.

And because those experiences cannot remain ‘wordless’, without being expressed in words, human words come to replace God's Word.


Attack on the heart of the Gospel


Not what people come up with in their delusion, but what God has revealed or made known to us is decisive. Hence the apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthian 1: 23vv : "We preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, to Gentiles foolishness." Therefore the apostle continues in 2: 2, about his arrival in Corinth: "I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." And in verse 10: "what God has revealed to us through the Spirit."

Hence he can write in Ephesians 1 as the Word of God, from which I quote:.... "He (God) chose us in Him (Christ) before the foundation of the world ……, and in Him we have the redemption through  his blood, the forgiveness of sins. "


Therefore I hope and pray that all those who read this and even more people, will join with me in protesting against this attack against the biblical doctrine of atonement.