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Question About Jesus Dying For Our Sins

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I've done research on various theories of what happened on the cross. The typical American evangelical approach has been presented as "The Four Spiritual Laws." It goes something like this:



* A gulf was formed between God and humans because of the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.


* Through their sin, the universe permanently changed and became a place of death, destruction, sin and the alienation of humans from God.


* Yeshua's life, and particularly his death on the cross, allowed some humans to bridge the gulf and be reconciled with God.


* If we accept Yeshua's sacrifice, we're on the Gold Team.


Unfortunately, the epistles of Paul and other writings in the Christian Canon don't explain how the atonement actually works.


Most theologians from Origen (185-254 C.E.) until now have believed that the atonement is related in some way to the sacrificial and/or voluntary death of Jesus. In recent years, however, some theologians have rejected atonement theories based on Yeshua's death. They argue in favor of a non-violent explanation for the atonement. For them, atonement is based on Yeshua's life, not his death. All of these theories have been prooftexted from scripture, but they all conflict. There's little hope that a consensus will be reached in the foreseeable future on which theory is the "correct" one. Here's a laundry list of atonement theories:


1. The Ransom Theory: God bribed, then tricked Satan. This was the dominant belief during the first 1,000 years of Christian church history. Origen suggested that, as a result of the sin of Adam and Eve, Satan had acquired a formal dominion over -- and ownership of -- all of humanity and creation. So, in order to free people from the grip of Satan, God agreed to arrange the death of Yeshua, His son, as a ransom to be paid to the devil. This then, would formally compensate for Adam and Eve's sin and would release humanity from Satan's grip. But the devil didn't realize that Yeshua, being without sin, would escape his clutches. God pulled a "bait and switch" operation by resurrecting Yeshua, leaving Satan without any reward.


The Ransom Theory was based, in part, on Mark 10:45 and 1 Timothy 2:6, where Origin interpreted the word "ransom" literally: Mark -- "For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many."1 Timothy 2:5-6: "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time."


2. The Satisfaction Theory:This theory is grounded in the concept of personal honor found in the European feudal culture. During the Middle Ages, a serf had to honor both God and the feudal lord who controlled his/her life and land. Human sin dishonors God. A price must be paid to satisfy God and restore his divine honor. The only penalty suitable to God was Christ's obedience when he willingly suffered death.


The satisfaction theory is related to the ancient Hebrew ritual sacrifice of animals at the altar of the Jerusalem Temple. By allowing himself to be ritually sacrificed, Yeshua's death replicated in many ways the ritual sacrifice of animals were slaughtered in the Temple.


The satisfaction theory is similar to the earlier ransom theory, in that a type of ransom was given. However, it was paid to God rather than to Satan. The satisfaction theory is generally attributed to Archbishop Anselem of Canterbury, (1033 to 1109 CE.It is contained in his book Cur Deus Homo ("Why God became man"), which was written circa 1098 CE. He writes:"...Without satisfaction, that is, without voluntary payment of the debt, God can neither pass by the sin unpunished, nor can the sinner attain that happiness, or happiness like that, which he had before he sinned.…The price paid to God for the sin of man [must] be something greater than all the universe besides God....Moreover, it is necessary that he who can give God anything of his own which is more valuable than all things in the possession of God, must be greater than all else but God himself....Therefore none but God can make this satisfaction."


The Satisfaction Theory is the only atonement theory most Christians have ever heard of, at least in the West. So when preachers talk about Jesus taking the sin of the world on his shoulders and paying the price for our sins, that's the theory they're referring to. It's interesting that this theory didn't actually exist for the first 1,000 years of Christian church history.


3. The Moral Theory: This theory suggests that Yeshua's (Jesus Christ's) life and death is primarily a moral example to humanity. It can inspire us to lift ourselves out of sin and grow towards union with God. Elements of the Moral Theory were initially suggested by various Apostolic Fathers during the second century CE.

Clement, referring to Yeshua's life, wrote: "Through Him God has called us from darkness to light from ignorance to knowledge of the glory of His name." He also wrote that Yeshua's sufferings should bring us to repentance. Barnabas (circa 1 to 60? CE) wrote that Yeshua came to abolish death and to demonstrate resurrection after death. The Moral Theory was first fully developed in the writings of Peter Abelard (1079 - 1142) in the 12th century Abelard wrote a book called "Expositio in Epistolam AD Romanos" ("Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans") in which he explained his theory of the atonement.


The moral theory teaches that atonement is not attained through a payment to Satan -- as in the Ransom Theory. It is also not attained by a payment made to restore God's honor -- as in the Satisfaction Theory. God's justice might demand such a compensation. But God does not ask for it. Rather, his limitless love overrules his need for justice. Yeshua's life and death becomes an inspiration and an example for Christians to follow.


The focus of the Atonement is not Satan or God as in these two previous theories. It is the individual Christian believer seeking wholeness. Yeshua's life and death are intended to inspire us. We are to be "willing to take up our crosses daily in the service of some good cause to mankind, and thus work out our own salvation."


4. The Acceptance Theory: Theologians John Duns Scotus and William of Ockham of the via moderna theological system promoted this theory of the atonement.

They argued that: God could have decided of his own free will to save humanity through the work, and perhaps the death, of an angel, of Adam, of any other human being, or even an animal. But he decided, for his own reasons, to achieve atonement through the death of Yeshua. "...All satisfaction comes from the arbitrary choice of God."


5. The Penal Theory: This is a variation of the Satisfaction Theory which had been proposed by Anselem, circa 1100 CE. The Penal Theory of the atonement (a.k.a. the Penal Subsitution Theory) was held by Martin Luther (1483 - 1546 CE), John Calvin (1509 - 1564 CE), and other leading theologians of the Reformation.

The theory states that God's mercy replaces his wrath after the infinite sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. This theory is commonly accepted today by fundamentalist other evangelical Protestant denominations, and some mainline faith groups.


The Penal Theory is a modification of Anselem's Satisfaction Theory. God is viewed as holy and perfect. He established an impossibly high standard of holiness and perfection for humanity. When we fail to live up to that standard, a sin debt to God is created. Such sin inevitably happens; all have fallen short. The Penal Theory expanded on Anselem's belief that Yeshua of Nazareth's (Jesus Christ's) passive obedience to God by living a sinless life, and by voluntarily dying on the cross made the atonement possible.



The basic fault of the traditional understandings of salvation within the Western development of Christianity is that they have no room for divine forgiveness. A forgiveness that has been bought by the bearing of a just punishment, or the giving of an adequate satisfaction, or the offering of a sufficient sacrifice, is not forgiveness at all – instead, it is merely an acknowledgment that the debt has been paid in full.


In the teachings of Jesus, however, there is genuine divine forgiveness for those who are penitent and conscious of their unworthiness. In the Lord’s Prayer we are taught to address God directly as our heavenly Father and to ask for forgiveness for our sins, expecting to receive this (the only condition being that we, in turn, forgive one another). There is no suggestion of the need for a mediator between ourselves and God or for an atoning death to enable God to forgive.


The narrow sense of atonement is that salvation requires God’s forgiveness and that this, in turn, requires an adequate sacrifice to satisfy the divine justice. In the broader – and preferable – sense, salvation means the transformation from self-centeredness to God-centeredness.



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  • 2 months later...

Although I've been contributing articles for some time to the PC.org resources section, I'd not come to the forums until the other day.... I see this thread has gone dormant for a couple months, but in case someone looks in and gets this far, I thought I'd mention a resource on the Net that may be fairly hidden... one which has LOTS on the modern (and earlier) evangelical ideas about Christ dying for our sins. Before I point you there with a link, the interesting, and partly sad, background story:


It is a blog that was written and run by a wonderful man who had become a long-distance friend of mine (and many others), Ken Pulliam. He died suddenly of a heart attack, at just 51 or so, about late Oct., 2010. If you notice, there are some Nov., 2010 posts which went up actually after his death via his automated posting, and somewhere also a bit of discussion from his surviving wife and us blog readers/commenters. I'm thankful the blog has stayed up, though no longer attended, apparently. You can read Ken's story there... he was a brilliant thinker, academic, teacher, and had been a "former fundy" for quite a few years.


The main point for THIS discussion topic is that Ken had a near-obsession with the issue of atonement theory, seeing it as the definite center or pivot-point for traditional (orthodox) Christian theology. What he calls by the theological name of "penal substitutionary atonement" is the most common thing in the mind of most pastors, Bible teachers, etc. when they refer to "Christ dying for our sins (or "sin", referring to "original sin"). He'd said he was working on a book on the subject which I presume will never be published as such, although there is enough material he'd already amassed on his site to probably produce a good one....


I certainly haven't read all of it, or even close. Most people wouldn't. But it's nice to have it there as a resource, as it is a place one CAN point a theologically trained person who may be open or have his/her own questions about what they've been taught or what other pastors, etc. are thinking (most of them, as has been pointed out... are NOT thinking through it or researching it in the Bible very deeply, as I was not while a minister, teacher, apologist for many years in evangelical circles myself).


So here is the link, directing you to this specific topic among the many, many Ken covered in the relatively short time he had the blog (you can explore within the blog from there):


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  • 2 weeks later...

I have a nephew in his last term in Divinity school. He is fired up to save lost souls. I asked him how he would go about such a feat and he quickly replied, "I'd tell them that Jesus died on the cross for their sins!"






Sins? Should he just assume that everyone believes they are covered, head to toe, in sin? If you drag the Garden of Eden into it do you think that that Disney story sounds reasonable to anyone not raised it it? Why would someone, 2018 years ago (give or take a few) need to be horribly executed for something that hasn't even been explained yet.


It's already a bad beginning.


So, he backs up and quotes the familiar (to us) John 3:16 and sits back contented.


So, something possibly as unfamiliar as one person's 'God' has sent His Son (God's can have children?) into the world (how did he 'send' Him? Help??) and if we will just 'believe' in this Son of God (what does 'believe' entail? Believe this Son is real even though he's supposed to be dead... Help??) if we just believe we will be saved (from what? Hell. What's Hell? Are you kidding?).


And now the silly fear of hell and devils begin.


Countless opportunities lost to introduce a loving, patient, and caring God to someone who, like most of us, longs to feel patiently loved and cared for.


I love the Pridigal Son and the Adulterous Woman because they involve people like us who have made bad decisions. More importantly I love them because neither Jesus nor the Father (the indicator of God's love for us) are in the slightest interested in a pound of flesh or atonement through sacrifice for the poor life choices of the two souls in trouble. God doesn't ban the younger son to a perpetual life as the least of His slaves nor does Jesus hammer the woman for how much she's angered Him and God. We focus on the phrases, "Let him among you who is without sin..." and "Go and sin no more" cloud the really amazing one, "No one here condemns you and NEITHER do I".


We want God to be just like us. We want revenge, punishment, comeuppance, victory and, indeed, that sweet pound of flesh. We have made God and Jesus into our image.


They aren't.


God, and through Him, Jesus clearly want us whole, healthy and happy; thriving within the love that permeates everything in the Everything that IS God. God wants us to be safe, warm, filled with joy for the gift of life He's given us.


God is way too big to be as small as us.


It's time we remembered that.


We can love so much more affectively than we can talk about it. It is in loving that we truly take on the image of God.

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Padre775 makes good points. I've also had difficulty with the Unblemished Sheep, Azazel, sacrifice made by Jesus for our sins. However, recently I found it's based on Adam and Eve's sin obtaining knowledge and acquiring death. Jesus reversed that, or bridged it, or further developed the concept by him gathering our sins, such as Azazel does, dying on the Cross and obtaining everlasting life. Like Padre says, reversing, bridging or at least changing sin=death, no sin=everlasting life. Jesus takes our sins from us, so we have everlasting life. Jesus pre-empted Mosaic Law, in other words. This is where the Jews and Messianics separate. The Jews can't accept Jesus pre-empts Moses.


My problem is I can't get Adam and Eve's fall in my thinking, so, consequently can't get how Jesus reverses this. I make a terrible minister and explainer.



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  • 3 months later...



I haven't read all the posts but if I could just offer another perspective. No one has to agree with this, it's just what I have come to believe at this point in time.


In reading "The Curse of Ignorance" by Arthur Findlay among other books and research I am still doing, I have come to believe that Jesus was an extraordinary human being who had "awakened" i.e. lost his ego. He knew that he was God's child but also that we are all God's children and that was what he was trying to teach anyone who would listen. He wanted everyone to awaken and come to know what he knew. He knew we would ultimately judge ourselves after we transitioned. He knew that the kind of life we lived and our character on Earth would matter when we transitioned. When he was crucified and the apostles scattered to the four winds it was out of fear as anyone could understand. However, in the 40 days after his resurrection he walked the Earth in his etheric body and was seen, I believe, 6 different times, the last being by the apostles. He spoke with them and he ascended into Heaven as a Ascended Master before their eyes and who I have no doubt, sits at the right hand of God. After that, the apostles did not run away when challenged but were willing to die for what they now knew.


I believe the Bible has truth in it but, as I've heard, is not meant to be read literally. I also believe the Bible has a lot of inaccuracies, due to translation errors, omissions that were not in the church's interests at the time, writers who may have had agendas, etc. I believe in a God of love and there are many instances in the Bible where he is reflected as anything but and I believe in a God who accepts and loves all his children.


There is a lot of information out there for anyone who is interested in doing research.






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  • 4 weeks later...

OP probably doesn't read it anymore, but I like Orthodox approach since they have slightly different definitions of sins and "original sin".

I never understood the idea of "infinitely offended by sin God" killing his son so he can pay our debts. It's just weird to think God won't forgive people until something bleeds out to death... Anyway, here goes few lines from Orthodox mind (2nd one written by a priest has some anti-western sentiment but bear with him :lol: ):






"God becomes powerless before human freedom; He cannot violate it since it flows from His own omnipotence. Certainly man was created by the will of God alone; but he cannot be deified [made Holy] by it alone. A single will for creation, but two for deification. A single will to raise up the image, but two to make the image into a likeness. The love of God for man is so great that it cannot constrain; for there is no love without respect. Divine will always will submit itself to gropings, to detours, even to revolts of human will to bring it to a free consent."


Vladimir Lossky, Orthodox Theology: An Introduction






Over the centuries a particular theory developed in the West as to why Christ had to die on the Cross for our salvation. It is now often referred to as the penal satisfaction theory, and it is traced back to St. Anselm of Canterbury (11th c.). As an early scholastic theologian, Anselm was trying to rationally explain the mystery of our redemption in Christ. The Orthodox theologian, Vladimir Lossky, critical of this theory, describes it thus in speaking of Anselm:
In his work Christian horizons are limited by the drama played between God, who is infinitely
offended by sin, and man, who is unable to satisfy the impossible demands of vindictive justice.
The drama finds its resolution in the death of Christ, the Son of God, who has become man in
order to substitute Himself for us and to pay our debt to divine justice.
This was later further distorted by many of the Protestant refomers who claimed that God was angry with us and that Christ had to "appease" or "propitiate" Him by His blood. Hence, Jonathon Edward's "sinners in the hands of an angry God." The rich imagery of the Scriptures is unfortunately narrowed down to a very legalistic understanding of redemption in Christ. As Lossky further probes this theory, he reveals its many shortcomings:
What becomes of the dispensation of the Holy Spirit here? His part is reduced to that of an
auxillary, an assistant in redemption, causing us to receive Christ's expiating merit. The final
goal of our union with God is, if not excluded altogether, at least shut out from our sight by
the stern vault of a theological conception built on the ideas of original guilt and its reparation.
There are further "casualties" in this narrowly-focused atonement theory, according to Lossky:
The price of our redemption having been paid in the death of Christ, the resurrection and the
ascension are only a glorious happy end of His work, a kind of apotheosis without direct
relationship to our human destiny. This redemptionist theology, placing all the emphasis
on the passion, seems to take no interest in the triumph of Christ over death. The very
work of the Christ-Redeemer, to which this theology is confined, seems to be truncated,
impoverished, reduced to a change of the divine attitude toward fallen men, unrelated to the
nature of humanity.
Too great a price to pay for a rationalistic theology! Only now, are both Roman Catholic and Protestants taking a serious and critical look at this particular theory of atonement.
The early Church, following the Scriptures, emphasized the victory of Christ over sin, death and the devil in His Cross and Resurrection. He truly "trampled down death by death." The Church Fathers, beginning with St. Irenaeus of Lyons, were very expressive in their formulation of this aspect of our redemption. So you will not find the "satisfaction theory" in their writings. The language of Scripture is meant to provide a series of images and metaphors that help us understand our redemption in Christ without falling prey to a narrowly-focused rationalism or legalism. "Justification," "salvation," "atonement," "expiation," "ransom," "reconciliation," "sanctification," "glorification," "freedom" - these are the many terms borrowed from both the Old Testament and from the Graeco-Roman world to convey the great "mystery of piety." These images are the many sides of a beautiful diamond that must be viewed from different angles for its true beauty and brilliance to be appreciated.
Ransom is another term that can be misapplied if one is overly-literalistic, or again legalistic, in its application. The following passage from St. Gregory the Theologian is probably the "classic" Orthodox response to any misunderstanding about the use of "ransom" language when referring to the death of Christ. This passage demands a very careful reading, if not multiple readings, to draw out the rich insights of St. Gregory. Basically, he is making it clear that the "ransom" offered by Christ was "paid" neither to the devil nor to God the Father:
We must now consider a problem and a doctrine ofter passed over in silently, which, in my view,
nevertheless needs deep study. The blood shed for us, the most precious and glorious blood of
God, the blood of the Sacrificer and the Sacrifice - why was it shed and to whom was it offered?
We were under the reign of the devil, sold to sin, after we had gained corruption on account of
our sinful desire. If the price of our ransom is paid to him who has us in his power, I ask myself:
Why is such a price to be paid? If it is given to the devil, it is outrageous! The brigand receives
the price of redemption. Not only does he receive it from God, he receives God Himself. For his
violence he demands such a disproportionate ransom that it would be more just for him to set us
free without ransom. But if to the Father, why should that be done? It is not the Father who has
held us as His captives. Morever, why should the blood of His only Son be acceptable to the
Father, who did not wish to accept Isaac, when Abraham offered Him his son as a burnt-offering,
but replaced the human sacrifice with the sacrifice of a ram? Is it not evident that the Father
accepts the sacrifice not becaue He demanded it or had any need for it but by His dispensation?
It was necessary that man should be sanctified by the humanity of God; it was necessary that
He Himself should free us, triumphing over the tyrant by His own strength, and that He should
recall us to Himself by His Son who is the Mediator, who does all for the honor of the Father, to
whom He is obedient in all things. Let the rest of the mystery be venerated silently.
Lossky comments on this passage, thus:
What emerges from the passage we have just quoted is that, for St. Gregory, the idea
of redemption, far from implying the idea of a necessity imposed by vindictive justice, is
rather an expression of the dispensation, whose mystery cannot be adequately
clarified in a series of rational concepts.
The key concept here is the "dispensation" or "divine economy" (from the Gk. oikonomia or God's "household management"). The Son of God must offer His life as a sacrifice in fulfilment of the Father's will, by the power of the Holy Spirit, in order for God's design or saving plan for us to be realized - the abolition of the power of sin and death over us. This is powerfully stated in the Epistle to the Hebrews:
Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise
shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death,
that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject
to bondage. (HEB. 2:14-15)
We are not sinners in the hands of an angry God, but sinners in the hands of a loving God: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son ... (JN. 3:16) Yet, there is not a drop of sentimentality in this divine love for us. As St. Paul says: "For you were bought at a price," meaning the "cost" to God in willing His Son to die on our behalf. God's saving dispensation includes not only our forgivess of sins, but also our glorification with Christ in the Kingdom of Heaven. That is why we never really separate the Cross from the Resurrection and Ascension. There is one unified paschal mystery. Christ is vanquishing sin and death on the Cross: "I call Him King, because I see Him crucified" says St. John Chrysostom. Of course, our sins are forgiven on the Cross because God desired them to be wiped out. That is the true meaning of Christ as our "expiation." The Cross is the "Mercy Seat" (Gk. hilasterion) on which are sins are wiped away by God, thus revealing His righteousness by restoring us by His faifhfulness to His covenental love.
We know that we are "saved" by the death and resurrection of Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We have been "ransomed" back from slavery to sin and death, because He "paid the price" on our behalf. This fulfilled the love of God for us, and did satisfy a non-existent "wrath" that needed to be appeased. We accept this in faith, without trying to overly penetrate the "mystery of piety." Let us venerate the mystery in silence as St. Gregory teaches us.


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Ah, I can't edit my previous post... But I read some more about this concept of Christ paying for our sins, and instead of some clarifications or churches dogmas I found overwhelming confusion among... everybody.


I find this post on some christian forum very cool:




Imagine, for a moment that I got caught up in a poker game with a cardshark. As the game continues, I manage to lose all my money, my house and end up owing money that I don't have. Now let's say I have a rich friend who loves me and sees the distress caused by the mess I got myself into playing poker with someone who is much better at it than me. My rich friend decides to help by getting into a poker game with the cardshark himself. My rich friend is not only wealthier than the cardshark, he is also infinitely better at poker than he is, and my friend ends up completely obliterating the cardshark, takes all his winnings, his house, and has him thrown into prison in debt. My friend then distributes the loot from the cardshark among all those he has cheated. Has my wealthy friend made "atonement"? The cardshark is the Death and the Devil, my rich friend is Christ who has redeemed me, not by paying my debt, but by deceiving the deceiver.
Orthodox Hymns for Good Friday:
Today hell cries out groaning: I should not have accepted the Man born of Mary (i.e. "I shouldn't have got into a poker game with Him"). He came and destroyed my power. He shattered the gates of brass. As God, He raised the souls that I had held captive. Glory to Thy cross and resurrection, O Lord.
Today, hell cries out groaning: My dominion has been shattered. I received a dead man as one of the dead, but against Him I could not prevail (i.e. "I was deceived"). From eternity I had ruled the dead, but behold, He raised all. Because of Him do I perish. Glory to Thy cross and resurrection, O Lord.
Today hell cries out groaning: My power has been trampled upon. The Shepherd is crucified and Adam is raised. I have been deprived of those whom I ruled. Those whom I swallowed in my strength I have given up. He Who was crucified has emptied the tombs (ie. "He has taken all my winnings and given them back to those I cheated"). The power of death has been vanquished. Glory to Thy cross and resurrection, O Lord.


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To me, the redeeming is not in the restoration of the gamblers money that was lost or even in the destruction of the cardshark. None of which is really necessary for our growth. Rather the redemption seems to me to be born in the suffering as a result of our actions and the acknowledgement of our poor choices that led to the suffering and a change in our thinking that transforms our lives through acceptance and wiser actions in the future.


Just some thoughts on your previous post,


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  • 1 month later...

I come into the thread rather late and I have not read every single post so forgive me if I repeat what has been already said.


My own studies convince me that Jesus did not die for our sins. Sins do not need a death to fix up - they can be readily forgiven as Jesus demonstrates any number of times throughout the gospels. So the Father did not kill his only Son for something which can easily be corrected any time anyone asks to be forgiven.


Further, the reason Jesus did not die in some bizarre ritualist sacrifice because of something someone (Adam) did way back when is because on careful reading of the Genesis account Adam did not sin, the serpent did not lie and Adam and Eve were not punished - they were protected. The only problem with gaining knowledge is the danger that humans might become Gods and thereby live forever. And if we did that we would never let our kids grow up.


But there is a far more insidious aspect here - the claim that the Genesis story is historical fact. It's not, it's a story. Therefore confusing the death of Jesus, a real historical event, with a imaginative story does not make rational, or theological sense. In accepting what the Church tells us (Jesus made no such claim) we are effectively trying to convince ourselves that apples and snowflakes are the same things.


We do not need 'salvation' from something that never happened. Mark finishes his account at 16:8 - no mention of salvation. The story in Luke 1 & 2 is just that - a story. Matthew is silent on the matter of salvation. There is no evidence in the gospels that Jesus intended to die to fix up Adams 'sin' and somehow rescue humanity.


I know this sounds heretical - so be it. The theistic God of the Bible is dead. People do bad things because they choose inevitable to do so not because of something called 'original sin'.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Jenell's right; that the need for substitutionary sacrifice is founded on original sin. If we tell the Garden of Eden story as a step up into maturity, of taking responsibility then it makes sense to see Jesus as a model and that we are his Twins. He is showing us the way: that it is only through death of our old selves and resurrection of the new thing that Jesus has begun in us that we will be able to experience heaven in the here and now. It is only in this moment, the Apocalyptic now, when heaven might come to earth. To be best prepared we must let our old selves be crucified, shattered so that we can be present in this moment.


Perhaps all of us have those moments where everything we understood about the world stopped working. The shattered pieces lay on the floor. We are resurrected when we start a new thing. Jesus' death and resurrection point the way out of being the living dead.


The theologian John Haught says that to move from a mundane life to a higher experience of life we must pass though chaos. From the living dead through the death of an ordered world, experiencing the fear of chaos and loss of control in order to reach a higher level of experience through Jesus' eyes.



Well said, Dutch. I look at tradition salvation theology as little more than a religious protection racket. Sure, you needn't accept the 'free' gift, it's Your Choice. If ya don't, uhhhh, who knows, (shrugs) tings could happen... Is it a coincidence that the Vatican and the Italian Mafia hail from the same place? How much did culture play into this the last, say, two thousand years?

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I always took the atonement to be about justice. Paul (the Apostle) talks about sin entering the Earth through one man and is conquered through one man..."the wages of sin is death" goes the story offered by the Apostle. The debt has to be paid because God cannot look upon sin nor can sinful beings be in His presence. To show He has infinite love for his children, God sends his Son, Jesus through the incarnation to live and pay the "ransom for many". As the parable goes, few would lay down their lives or the lives of their children for those they know, much less those they do not. I have to say that concept has always made complete sense to me with the exception of the fact that it is a "self licking ice cream cone". An omnipotent and omniscient God would know beforehand that we would fall and that a propitiatory sacrifice would be required. Jesus fulfills the sacrificial law given to the Jews. I think Jesus makes a big stir today by today's standards, but the truth is that in his day very few if any secular historians take note of him at all. Only the early church fathers talk about him. Almost as if he was a common criminal and heretic that was put to death by the Romans.


If you think about it, he is either the Son of God or a complete lunatic for stating so. Not much middle ground based on the words that were placed in his mouth.

Edited by PerpetualSeeker
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If you think about it, he is either the Son of God or a complete lunatic for stating so. Not much middle ground based on the words that were placed in his mouth.


I have heard that a lot. It is C.S. Lewis' saying that Jesus is either a liar, a lunatic or he is who he says he is. It always bugged me for some reason until I figure out why. There is a fourth option; Jesus has been misrepresented. He acquired legend status and the stories and quotes grew to fit the legend. This would be supported by what you said about few taking notice of him at the time. If the people in the early church believed in him strongly and few others did, what is the best way to get others to take notice? Make the stories better.


I like your "self licking ice cream cone. I hadn't heard that before. :)

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>>God cannot look upon sin nor can sinful beings be in His presence


For me, though I have heard this claim all my life, I found it to be unwarranted.


Even if the "Garden of Eden" story were true, God continued to fellowship and be with Adam and Eve outside the Garden.


God's speaks to Abraham out of the burning bush. It was the bush, not Abraham, that was on fire, right?


Moses was in God's presence without a blood sacrifice being offered, wasn't he?


So was Joshua and David, right?


And probably the prime example of the fault in this logic is that, according to conservative Christians, Jesus was fully God (fully human, also, but still no diminishment in his Godhood). And yet, He looked upon sin and sinners, and even loved them. He had no problem being in their presence. I see no records in the gospels of sinners spontaneously combusting from being in the presence of the God that was Jesus. Sure, some begged him for forgiveness or asked him to go away. But no one burst into flame or encountered some sort of "holy force field" around him (except for maybe those who came to arrest him, ha ha).


And while "Christ" supposedly knocked Saul to the ground, causing him to go blind, Saul was, according to his own claim, a "sinner in God's presence."


So I love how some Christians come up with these theological scenarios that are long on the "theo" but short on the "logical." :D

Edited by BillM
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  • 2 months later...

Wayseer so speaking about some basic tenets of Christain faith in the negative what is it that you do believe? Frankly I can't say whether any of the events in the Bible occurred anymore than I can prove that the events which took place in the Mahabharata ever took place or the the Buddha sat under the bodhi tree and attained nirvana. That being said I believe in the events as they illustrate a deeper spiritual truths. So what is means is more important than the historicity of the events. If some Christian believe in their factuality so what?


What truth do you think the stories contain?


If they have no value that's fine. But even if they are made up stories they say something about being human, don't you think?


Let's put aside what other people we don't agree with anyway think.


What do you think? What do you believe?


Why the need to test down someone's belief here? To me that's bad karma.

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  • 10 years later...
On 3/2/2012 at 11:10 PM, Halcyon said:

This is a question that has been on my mind for a long time, but I never felt comfortable asking anyone about it. It seems like such an obvious thing, so obvious that I am perplexed as to why I don't understand it.


It is said that Jesus died for our sins. That God sacrificed his only son for us, that he paid the ultimate price. The thing I don't get is....how does this work? How does the death of one release us from sin? The sins still happened. The consequences still resound. How does the son of God dying "pay" for this? What is "payment" in this context? Is it like an exchange? A barter? If it is, why would the death of God's son (which one could argue is not a good thing) pay for sins (again, not a good thing). It's like saying that crashing my new car will release me from mortgage payment on my house. I guess what's missing for me is the relationship, the thread, connecting Jesus' death with my sins.


I am probably making no sense. If so, then forgive me. If you have any clue as to what I'm trying to get out here, perhaps you have insight.

 I find this question quite interesting yet fulfilling. It is essential to understand that Jesus was without sin. Throughout the Old Testament, we see animal sacrifices, and while they were to give the one that had no blemish, this is impossible, as a goat farmer myself. During creation, humans were the only creation that God put a "soul" into, establishing a difference between all animals and humans. Because of Romans 3:23 and 1 John 1:8, it is clear that we are all sinners, and not only that, but we have been born into sin, as the Psalmist David writes in Psalm 51. Because of passages such as 2 Cor. 5, 1 Peter 2, 1 John 3, etc. We know that Jesus was without any sin.
Furthermore, we have to understand that Jesus was God. While this is another conversation, I assume we have this understanding because it is clearly portrayed throughout Scripture repeatedly. With this being known, Jesus is God, Jesus is with no sin; we must understand that when God sends his one and only Son down from the thrown to take on flesh in order for our sin to be forgiven, it is not just some random dude off the street. This was no barter. This was a substitutionary sacrifice for all sin in the world, paid for by God. As logical thinkers, we cannot understand this from a worldly perspective; we must take God at his word because his word proves truthful and right every time. God bless, and I hope this reaches you well and in good intentions. 

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14 hours ago, Tucker said:

 I find this question quite interesting yet fulfilling. It is essential to understand that Jesus was without sin. Throughout the Old Testament, we see animal sacrifices, and while they were to give the one that had no blemish, this is impossible, as a goat farmer myself. During creation, humans were the only creation that God put a "soul" into, establishing a difference between all animals and humans. Because of Romans 3:23 and 1 John 1:8, it is clear that we are all sinners, and not only that, but we have been born into sin, as the Psalmist David writes in Psalm 51. Because of passages such as 2 Cor. 5, 1 Peter 2, 1 John 3, etc. We know that Jesus was without any sin.
Furthermore, we have to understand that Jesus was God. While this is another conversation, I assume we have this understanding because it is clearly portrayed throughout Scripture repeatedly. With this being known, Jesus is God, Jesus is with no sin; we must understand that when God sends his one and only Son down from the thrown to take on flesh in order for our sin to be forgiven, it is not just some random dude off the street. This was no barter. This was a substitutionary sacrifice for all sin in the world, paid for by God. As logical thinkers, we cannot understand this from a worldly perspective; we must take God at his word because his word proves truthful and right every time. God bless, and I hope this reaches you well and in good intentions. 

Of course, a more plausible understanding of this conundrum could be that Jesus was entirely human, just like any other on this planet that has evolved over millions of years, but he preached a message of a coming Kingdom of God (to come in HIS lifetime) and that he would play some role in it.  Of course when he was executed by the Romans this would have severely let down his followers as it wasn't part of the plan.  So to try and understand this dilemma, early followers started coming up with theories like "Jesus was God".  

Probably the simplest example of this was Matthew's introduction of the Virgin Mary story, which we now know is Mathew's misunderstanding because he was going off the mistranslated Greek Septuagint and not the Hebrew bible.  The Hebrew bible simply says 'young girl' in Isaiah, but the Septuagint incorrectly translated that as 'virgin', and then Mathew ran with that.  So a simple mistranslation led to a totally different understanding of Jesus' origins.  And as they say...the rest is history.  Stories further developed and before you know it, Jesus is getting called God and being cast as a necessary requirement to believe in, for anybody to be at peace with God. What a shame really.



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