Jump to content

The Ultimate Sacrifice?


Stanley
 Share

Recommended Posts

When I was in my late teens I started to get more into Christianity. While on that path I tried to do things that made me closer to the person I thought a Christian should be. One of the things I saw as important was honesty, so I started trying to be more honest. I wasn’t a dishonest person before but I tried to make sure what I said was truthful to the extent I could. But a weird thing happened because of that. In all honesty, I had to admit to myself that the basic premise of Christianity didn’t make sense to me. Why would a God of love require Jesus to be the ultimate blood sacrifice for forgiveness of sins? Even more so, why would a God of perfect love, perfect peace be so arrogant to require any blood sacrifices at all? So my plan to become more religious/Christian ended up eroding my Christian faith.

 

Over the years I have asked that question but have never received a decent answer. I figured people here have thought about it and I would be curious to hear some ideas.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Stanley,

 

That is a good question, but, sorry I don't have a good answer. I suppose one could argue that God needed to do something dramatic to get our attention. And, I think the crucifixion did accomplish that. While I am personally agnostic on these question of divinity and divine intervention, I am impressed with Jesus' willingness to undergo this ultimate sacrifice.

 

The question I have had in the past is if Jesus were, if fact, divine, was the sacrifice so great? Presumably, he could turn the pain off and he knew for certain he would enjoy eternal bliss. In fact, I think I would be more impressed if he were an ordinary, mortal man.

 

George

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Even more so, why would a God of perfect love, perfect peace be so arrogant to require any blood sacrifices at all? So my plan to become more religious/Christian ended up eroding my Christian faith.

 

Over the years I have asked that question but have never received a decent answer. I figured people here have thought about it and I would be curious to hear some ideas.

Stanley,

 

Perhaps you have received no satisfying answer because the premise is false and their is no decent answer? Perhaps God never required any such thing and it is merely a device of ignorant men who create God in their own image?. Perhaps some of the inspired writings of the Bible have been written or corrupted by the customs and whims of men in power and those who suppose they speak for God? Perhaps it was found a then effective means to control and rule the masses by a pretension they were acting on God's behalf?

 

Just possible considerations,

Joseph

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Many have asked the same question. For me, it lead me here.... it lead me to the realization that the basic premise shouldn't make sense to anyone because the basic premise of the church isn't the basic premise of Jesus. Does it make sense that a loving God would kill the first born of everyone in town except those who smeared blood on their mailbox? If you read the bible looking for the BIG picture taking into consideration who it was written for then it begins to make sense.

 

If you look at the bible as how the early followers of Jesus saw things and lose the inerrency, then things look a bit clearer. Biblical historians suggest that substitutionary atonement is a fairly recent construct of the Church. The idea of Jesus dying for me didn't make any sense until I realized that Martin Luther King dyed for me too. He died because of the sins of my fore-bearers, he died so I could see the light and he died so my children would grow up not knowing a bigots heart. God didn't kill him ( MLK or Jesus) ... the sins of the people did.

 

Another issue that I have passed by is that of heaven and hell. Would a loving God send one of his wayward children to eternal Hell? Would a loving set up a game of life so God can decide who goes to Heaven and who goes to Hell? Especially one that is so fear based.

 

When I quit trying to make sense out of things that couldn't . When I started reading the bible looking for wisdom instead of rules. When I looked for the big biblical picture and considered who the bible was written for..... everything made perfect sense.

 

I then was a follower of Jesus .

 

Get the book : reading the bible for the first time... again by Marcus Borg and "Meeting Jesus for the first time ... again" also by Borg.

 

steve

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am very courious to hear others but these three responses go along with the direction I have been going for a while. It is good to hear some like minded views and validate what I have been thinking. There are only a few people I talk to who can really step back and say the premise of a belief is what is wrong. That is when answers start to appear. If you already know the answer you will never really be able to learn the really answer.

 

Thanks for the book recommendation, Steve. My dad has been wanting me to read "Speaking Christian" by Borg. I have not read any of his stuff so I guess he will make it to my reading list now. I just read Rob Bell's "Love Wins". I thought he did a great job on some of those topics also.

Edited by Stanley
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just read Rob Bell's "Love Wins". I thought he did a great job on some of those topics also.

 

Stanley,

 

There was a discussion of this book in the book thread a little over a year ago under the title "Love Wins By Rob Bell." You might be interested in the comments and maybe you would like to add a comment and revive the discussion.

 

George

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have to agree 100% with Steve. Sacrifice as atonement just doesn't make sense to me. Like George, I too am a bit agnostic when it comes to Jesus' divinity and the whole resurrection thing - clearly something happened or we wouldn't be talking about it more than 2000 years later. I can't remember it it was Borg or Michael Morwood who said it, but I can think of Jesus as savior. Jesus saved the "masses" (that is, the poor and marginalized) by letting them know they were loved, that they mattered. I think this same message rings true today. Just my 2 cents worth.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There was a discussion of this book in the book thread a little over a year ago under the title "Love Wins By Rob Bell." You might be interested in the comments and maybe you would like to add a comment and revive the discussion.

 

When I look at the "Book Discussions" I only see 8 topics and just a single page. There is not the option to go to other pages like other areas have. Is there something wrong with the thread or my view?

 

Glad to hear Rob Bell was discussed. I have to admit I was worried when I only saw 8 books being discussed. I couldn't believe books weren't one of the main things discussed here. :) I was going to recommend a bunch. Hope we can figure out why I can't see the other topics. That was an area I was looking forward to seeing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Got it figured out. Under "Custom" at the top of the topic list I selected "Show All" under Time Frame. Looks like there are 12 pages now. I even see Paul Tillich listed. I have read some of his sermons and have a lot of his books I got from Half Price Books. Still need to read those though.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In all honesty, I had to admit to myself that the basic premise of Christianity didn’t make sense to me. Why would a God of love require Jesus to be the ultimate blood sacrifice for forgiveness of sins? Even more so, why would a God of perfect love, perfect peace be so arrogant to require any blood sacrifices at all?

In addition to love, Christians have historically ascribed another attribute to God, namely justice. Just as it would be unjust for a judge to let a criminal go free without paying for his crime, so God would not be just if He let moral crimes go unpunished (and we all commit moral crimes, hate=murder as Jesus says). So how is this dilemma between God's perfect love for us and His justice resolved? The Gospel (good news) tells us that God took the punishment upon Himself in our place, thereby reconciling his love and justice.

Edited by DCJ
Link to comment
Share on other sites

That is a good point, DCL. My response is going to dilute my own statement. It seems we personify God too much. We try to understand the super-natural in human terms and with human emotions. We rationalize love and judgment in our own way and then try to assign that rational to an entity infinity more complex and intelligent than ourselves. We take the father-son analogy too literally. So sure, judgment makes sense, but I would hope God has a better system in place to handle it than eternal damnation.

  • Upvote 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't believe I that I have committed the ultimate sin so an ultimate animal(human) sacrifice is not needed to save me. Also I don't think the best readings of the Garden of Eden story includes rebellion as the source of all evil so there is nothing to redeem by sacrifice universally. Jesus's death is a powerful story. But a sacrifice in my stead no longer makes sense.

 

Dutch

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

In addition to love, Christians have historically ascribed another attribute to God, namely justice. Just as it would be unjust for a judge to let a criminal go free without paying for his crime, so God would not be just if He let moral crimes go unpunished (and we all commit moral crimes, hate=murder as Jesus says). So how is this dilemma between God's perfect love for us and His justice resolved? The Gospel (good news) tells us that God took the punishment upon Himself in our place, thereby reconciling his love and justice.

 

Yep, Christians and humans in general are very good at ascribing human attributes to entities they don't understand. I guess it makes it easier for humans to rationalise. Punishing somebody else for another's crime is not justice. Punishing yourself so that you can then allow yourself to forgive another's crime makes no sense.

 

I would argue that the true good news that genuine early Christians tried to share was how to have relationship with God whilst alive and had nothing to do with an afterlife. That idea was simply a later human idea that along with Hellenistic influence developed and later gained a place in a diminished Christianity.

 

I don't think Jesus meant hate=murder from a justice & punishment point of view, but rather that hating, just like murder, diminished human relationships and had no place in a proper Kingdom of God.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One of the things I saw as important was honesty, so I started trying to be more honest. I wasn’t a dishonest person before but I tried to make sure what I said was truthful to the extent I could. But a weird thing happened because of that. In all honesty, I had to admit to myself that the basic premise of Christianity didn’t make sense to me.

 

I really appreciate this sentiment. Well said.

 

For me, it happened when I was eight years old. I was raised in a Baptist church, but my father encouraged my love of science, mathematics and literature. I read voraciously.

 

We also had the habit, as a family, to read the Bible in its entirety every year. During breakfast and after dinner. Every night. For at least 10 years.

 

It didn't take very long for me to come to the same conclusion as you. The Gospel story, as it is related, doesn't make sense. It does not align AT ALL with the system of sacrifice, justice and Law as represented in the portion of the Bible largely ignored by most Christians - the Tanakh, or Jewish Bible. What Christians call the Old Testament.

 

In fact, the G-d represented by Christians is a different G-d than the one represented by Jews all over the world.

 

Yet, in order for Christianity to "make sense," it must be predicated on the fact that it is a fulfillment of the Jewish story.

 

The two simply cannot reconcile. They are as far as the east is from the west, to borrow a Biblical metaphor.

 

But, I struggled forward hoping that somehow my spirituality would trump my intellect. I came close - particularly during the period in my life when I consumed massive quantities of mind altering drugs.

 

Then I sobered up and embraced Christianity with abandon, mainly because it was a warm fuzzy to me. I was familiar with the nomenclature.

 

Dammit, it happened again. The minute I put my nose in the Bible, those old realizations surfaced. Big Time.

 

I've since converted to Reform Judaism (I am Jewish by birth, so it made sense). You see, in Judaism, its more about how you live your life rather than embracing myths and miracles. "Be the miracle" is a common affirmation. I am fully agnostic, bordering on atheist and am embraced by my Jewish community with open arms.

 

If you find the moral teachings of Jesus make sense to you, then perhaps you should investigate Judaism. Jesus was, after all - Jewish.

 

NORM

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

Over the years I have asked that question but have never received a decent answer. I figured people here have thought about it and I would be curious to hear some ideas.

 

Decent or not......... :) .............(and maybe questions are more important than answers)

 

As far as I'm aware, the exact nature of the Atonement has never been determined by any Creed or Papal Bull. It does seem to me that very often its "nature" has been determined by the cultural thinking extant at the time of Christ's life on earth. But as was said by Jesus when one or two of his female followers went to the tomb........."why do you search for the living among the dead". Christ has risen, and Jesus had to go so that the spirit of all truth could come.

 

Maybe the path that the spirit determines for us is unique for each; in just how we are "made one" with the divine.

 

Searching through the various byways of the Christian Faith, there have been for me pointers in the "O Felix Culpa"......."O happy fault that merited such and so great a Redeemer".......and also in the words found in Phil. 2:7, where Christ is spoken of having emptied Himself.

 

When the "fault" is seen to be a "happy one"..........rather than calling for first, outright condemnation, then blood..........then our minds seem to begin following new directions.

 

Then again, another small verse from the NT has often made me stop and think.........."Go and learn what this means, I shall have mercy and not sacrifice". One wonders why "sacrifice" figures so largely in many theories of the atonement. Yet when the sacrifice is of self, again new thoughts can come in.

 

Anyway, we all have to sort it out for ourselves.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...
Why would a God of love require Jesus to be the ultimate blood sacrifice for forgiveness of sins?

What if believing in a substitutionary sacrifice was a necessary step in the evolution of our thinking about Jesus.Maybe if the early Christians had not seen the crucifixion as that important Jesus would not continue to be present for us today. Robert Wright, an atheist/agnostic, says near the end of his book, Evolution of God, that as the evolution of our ideas about God bring us to "God is Love" or universal love then that is something he could believe in.

 

In evolution the stages of change do not define the current being but were necessarily apart of the development. Not necessarily the only path but belief in sacrifice is a stage in our development. The temptation is to say that the idea was wrong from the beginning but it may not have been. It may been necessary in the development of our ideas today.

 

Just because one of the small bones in our ear evolved from an extra bone in a alligators jaw does not make us alligators or alligators human. Evolution re-purposes what is into what will become.

 

Dutch

  • Upvote 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Steven Pinker in The Better Angels of Our Nature makes an unassailable case that humans have become less and less violent throughout human history. And, it has been an evolutionary process, not sudden change. We are now living in the most peaceful, secure time in human history - But we still have room for improvement.

 

George

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Steven Pinker in The Better Angels of Our Nature makes an unassailable case that humans have become less and less violent throughout human history. And, it has been an evolutionary process, not sudden change. We are now living in the most peaceful, secure time in human history - But we still have room for improvement.

 

George

Unassailable, eh? I doubt it. Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool. :D

 

I jest, naturally. Nonetheless, I'm inclined to at least question this. Kinda wish I'd read it in full, but based on that very short description, I'd like to ask if Pinker argues that humans themselves have evolved to be less violent, or that human culture has become more subdued? Because those are very different ideas indeed. The necessary natural selection to remove those with violent tendencies from the gene pool seems... unlikely.

 

If on the other hand, the difference is cultural... well, for example, you're in a restaurant, and at the end of the bar is a big burly bearded bloke with a beer. There is something about you he does not like. If he was a Crusader, or otherwise from a very pro-violence culture that would let him get away with it, he might cleave your head in twain for whatever the offense. If on the other hand he was a modern man, he might, at the most, shove you into the wall, and then only if he was very mad. I may be simplifying complex cultural differences between these two time frames, but cultures change more readily than genetics. If he's arguing that we live in a largely nonviolent CULTURE, I can think of little reason why he'd ever be refuted. In fact, it seems pretty self-evident.

 

You're right though, there's always room for improvement! ^_^

 

What if believing in a substitutionary sacrifice was a necessary step in the evolution of our thinking about Jesus? Maybe if the early Christians had not seen the crucifixion as that important, Jesus would not continue to be present for us today. Robert Wright, an atheist/agnostic, says near the end of his book, Evolution of God, that as the evolution of our ideas about God bring us to "God is Love" or universal love then that is something he could believe in.

So what then, are you saying that without the reinterpretation of Jesus' death in terms of human inadequacy and "sin" Jesus wouldn't have been remembered at all? Well, you may very well be right, after all, so much of Christian history has been of a school of thought quite a bit like that, but it seems kind of messed up. The whole "redeem humanity from original sin" concept takes a real bleak view of human nature.

 

How long after Jesus' death did it come to be viewed in that light? I doubt, based on my interpretation, if anyone who personally witnessed Jesus' boundary-breaking acts of love would interpret his death that way.

 

I think (though I may be wrong) that Spong says the Apostles probably started to view Jesus as the "Suffering Sevant" archetype of Messiah after the crucifixtion, when they were struggling to figure out the scriptural context of Jesus' death when they were so sure he would change everything. They stumbled upon some of those "Suffering Servant" ideas in (I think) Second Isaiah, but it certainly doesn't suggest the Puritanical idea of human indecency redeemed only through "Christ's Sacrifice"..

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Unassailable, eh? I doubt it. Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool. :D

 

I jest, naturally. Nonetheless, I'm inclined to at least question this. Kinda wish I'd read it in full, but based on that very short description, I'd like to ask if Pinker argues that humans themselves have evolved to be less violent, or that human culture has become more subdued? Because those are very different ideas indeed. The necessary natural selection to remove those with violent tendencies from the gene pool seems... unlikely.

 

Yeah, I am going to stick with unassailable and I don't think is is hyperbole. The evidence he has gathered is overwhelming. I cannot imagine a reasonable counter argument.

 

As I recall (it has been several months and a number of books under the bridge), his argument is cultural change, not genetic.

 

However, genetic evolution is ongoing. I read another book recently by a paleoanthropologist who pointed out that genetic change in humans is happening faster than many think. So, there could be a genetic factor as well. As we live in larger, more complex societies, perhaps natural selection weeds out some of the sociopaths who don't pass on as many genes.

 

George

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What if believing in a substitutionary sacrifice was a necessary step in the evolution of our thinking about Jesus.Maybe if the early Christians had not seen the crucifixion as that important Jesus would not continue to be present for us today. Robert Wright, an atheist/agnostic, says near the end of his book, Evolution of God, that as the evolution of our ideas about God bring us to "God is Love" or universal love then that is something he could believe in.

 

I think this makes a lot of sense. Without the radical redefining of Jesus as an apocalyptic, supernatural messiah, his story more than likely would have remained in the dustbin of failed first century reformers and revolutionaries.

 

I share Robert Wright's sentiments. I cannot accept a G-d that requires blood sacrifice for the atonement of some imaginary and arbitrary wrong. I can get with the god-is-love theme. It is not based on believing in miracles and superstitions. Anyone can (and should) try to love their neighbor as themselves. There is no need for complex theological constructs or exclusionary religious litmus tests.

 

In evolution the stages of change do not define the current being but were necessarily apart of the development. Not necessarily the only path but belief in sacrifice is a stage in our development. The temptation is to say that the idea was wrong from the beginning but it may not have been. It may been necessary in the development of our ideas today.

 

When speaking of human ideas and thinking, I don't think you can say that any process was necessary - just that it happened, and here's why. The burning of heretics at the stake for worshiping the wrong deity wasn't necessary - it just happened.

 

Just because one of the small bones in our ear evolved from an extra bone in a alligators jaw does not make us alligators or alligators human. Evolution re-purposes what is into what will become.

 

I appreciate the analogy, but societal evolution is not the equivalent of biological evolution. Biological evolution can be quantified, tested in the laboratory and analyzed. Social anthropology is mostly theoretical.

 

NORM

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

terms of service