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A Rational Look at Christianity; Basing Reason in Truth

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On the comment section Mike asks this question: "Why did Jesus have to die?" He sites his own blog "Journey of an Ex Christian:"


Monday, December 31, 2007

Why did Jesus have to die?
The Bible and traditional Christian theology tell us that Jesus had to die because humanity was lost in original sin. Jesus' death and resurrection paid the price that we would have had to pay for our sins, and all we have to do is truly accept his gift.

First let us set up some definitions.

God: Omniscient, Omnipotent, Non-Temporally bound being who created all things.
Jesus: Emanuel (God with us), Son of God and also God himself. See the Gospel of John chapter 1.
Humanity: Creations of God, originally good, but defiled by our original sin through Adam and Eve.

I recently re-read the story of the drawbridge operator who sacrificed his son to save the lives of those on the train.

The Drawbridge Keeper

I'm sure it's not a true story, but it can be moving nonetheless. It's usually told as an allegory for God having to sacrifice Jesus in order to save us all. The major problem as pointed out in the above link, is that Jesus' death was not an accident and that is where it breaks down as an allegory. This story made me think of another problem, but it's a problem with both stories.

God is, as stated above, an omniscient, omnipotent, non-temporally bound being who created all things. I guess this ties into the first problem. Before god had even created Adam and Eve he knew that Jesus would have to die on the cross to redeem all of humanity. He knew about all of the atrocities, all the suffering, and all the pain that his children, all of us, not just Jesus, would suffer.

Why did it have to happen? Essentially, it looks like God set Adam and Eve up to fail.

Why? I don't have an answer, but I'd sure like one. It is to that end that all of my non-intercessory prayer will go.
Posted by Questioning Christian at 8:04 AM
0 comments:


The problem here is that he is being led astray by a bad rendition of the doctirne of atonement. This is a rendition that is actually not doctrine at all but devotional ism. He is drawing upon folksie chruchified explanations grounded in nineteenth century reactions to liberalism and aimed at evoking an emotional response from the common man. He is not dealing with the true theological issues of the faith. The draw bridge thing is not from a creed or a council, or the bible, it is a peice of preacherly devoitionalism. While I don't claim the following article is perfect, I think it offers a theologically informed alternative to understanding the atonement.

The short answer: He didn't have to, God could choose any method, he chose the most emotionally powerful and evocative symbol to demonstrate his love.

This is from my article "An Analysis of Atonement without civil or financial analogies."




There's an old atheist argument that goes like this: So what if Jesus was crucified? what's the big deal? There re much worse ways to suffer. Crucification is bad but it is far from the worst thing that can happen to you. So why was it a sacrifice, I mean after all he is God, what would it matter to him if he dies? And he got to come back."


It occurs to me there re some resins for this kind of chaotic thinking, but also one big hidden premise. Before launching into that analysis, however, I would like to comment on the inadequacy of Christian understanding.

First, most Christians try to answer this out of a need for piety. They do not give a theological answer, they give a pious one. The pious answer can't be understood by modern people, they lack pious feelings, so it just makes it worse. The pious answer of course is to try and mount up the pain and make it seem so very much worse. O. Jesus suffered in hell and he suffers every minute and he's still suffering and he felt all the agony in the world. Of course it doesn't really say that anywhere in the Bible. While I think this is true, and while my pious side feels the prier sense of reversions and gratitude to our savior for this work, we can't use this to answer the question because modern impiety can't understand the answer. They just hear us reiterating their hidden primes.

The other Christian answers are Propitiatory atonement, Substitutionary, or Moral government. These are the tree major ways of looking at the atonement. Propitiation means to turn away anger. This answer is also incomprehensible t moderns. God is so very angry with us that he can't stand the sight of us, he hats to stick Jesus between himself and us so he will see Jesus and turn away his anger. This just makes God seem like a red faced historical parent who couldn't comprehend the consequences of his creation when he decided to make it. Substitutionary atonement says Jesus took our place, he received the penalty our sins deserved. This comes in two verities. One is financial translation, Jesus paid the debt. the other is closer to moral government, Jesus was executed because he stepped in and took the place of the guilty party. Both of these are also problematic, because they really allow the guilty to get off Scott free and God persecutes an innocent person. The thing is in real life you could not go down to the jail and talk them into letting you take another prisoner's place. We can harp on how this is a grace so fine we can't undersigned it in the natural mind, and relapse into piety again singing the praises to God for doing this wonderful act, but it wont answer the atheist's questions.

I realize that the view I hold to is a little known minority view. I know I'm bucking the mainstream. But I think it makes a lot more sense and tells us why there was an atonement. Before getting into it, however, I want to comment upon the atheist hidden premise. The explicit premise of the atheist argument is that atonement works by Jesus suffering a whole lot. If Jesus suffers enough then restitution is made. But wait, restitution for what? For our sins? Then why should Jesus suffer more than we do or more than our victims do? Why do atheists seem to think that Jesus must suffer more than anyone ever has for the atonement to work? It's because the hidden premise is that God is guilty and the atonement is the time God pays for his own mistakes. Jesus has to suffer more than anyone to make up for what God has done, inconveniencing us by creating us.

The sickness of the modern mind can scarcely comprehend Christian theology now. I wonder if it isn't too late and we are just past the day when people in the West can really be saved?

I mean consider the idea that usually accompanies this argument: well he is God after all, a little torture and death can't hurt him. In the old days, when we had a culture that ran on Christian memories, people said how great that God would do this for us when he didn't have to! Now the argument is "Of course he had to, it's the least he can do, after all I didn't asked to be born, so I'm entitled to whatever goodies I can get in compensation." That's why I think the hidden premise is to blame God; its as though they are saying God has to suffer more than anyone to make up for the suffering he caused as creator. This sort of attitude is very troubling.

In any case, my view is the Participatory atonement. It was embraced by several church fathers and modern theologians supporting it are mentioned below:





I.The Atonement: God's Solidarity With Humanity.



A. The inadequacy of Financial Transactions


Many ministers, and therefore, many Christians speak of and think of Jesus' death on the cross as analogous to a financial transaction. Usually this idea goes something like this: we are in hock to the devil because we sinned. God pays the debt we owe by sending Jesus to die for us, and that pays off the devil. The problem with this view is the Bible never says we owe the devil anything. We owe God. The financial transaction model is inadequates. Matters of the soul are much more important than any monetary arrangement and business transactions and banking do not do justice to the import of the issue. Moreover, there is a more sophisticated model; that of the sacrifice for sin. In this model Jesus is like a sacrificial lamb who is murdered in our place. This model is also inadequate because it is based on a privative notion of sacrifice. The one making the sacrifice pays over something valuable to him to appease an angry God. In this case God is paying himself. This view is also called the "propitiation view" because it is based upon propitiation, which means to turn away wrath. The more meaningful notion is that of Solidarity. The Solidarity or "participatory" view says that Jesus entered human history to participate in our lot as finite humans, and he died as a means of identifying with us. We are under the law of sin and death, we are under curse of the law (we sin, we die, we are not capable in our own human strength of being good enough to merit salvation). IN taking on the penalty of sin (while remaining sinless) Jesus died in our stead; not in the manner of a privative animal sacrifice (that is just a metaphor) but as one of us, so that through identification with us, we might identify with him and therefore, partake of his newness of life.



B. Christ the Perfect Revelation of God to Humanity


In the book of Hebrews it says "in former times God spoke in many and verious ways through the prophets, but in these latter times he has spoken more perfectly through his son." Jesus is the perfect revelation of God to humanity. The prophets were speaking for God, but their words were limited in how much they could tell us about God. Jesus was God in the flesh and as such, we can see clearly by his character, his actions, and his teachings what God wants of us and how much God cares about us. God is for humanity, God is on our side! The greatest sign of God's support of our cause as needy humans is Jesus death on the cross, a death in solidarity with us as victims of our own sinful hearts and societies. Thus we can see the lengths God is will to go to to point us toward himself. There are many verses in the Bible that seem to contradict this view. These are the verses which seem to say that Atonement is propitiatory.



C. Death in Solidarity with Victims


1) Support from Modern Theologians



Three Major Modern Theologians support the solidarity notion of atonement: Jurgen Moltmann (The Crucified God), Matthew L. Lamb (Solidarity With Victims), and D.E.H. Whiteley (The Theology of St. Paul).In the 1980s Moltmann (German Calvinist) was called the greatest living protestant theologian, and made his name in laying the groundwork for what became liberation theology. Lamb (Catholic Priest) was big name in political theology, and Whiteley (scholar at Oxford) was a major Pauline scholar in the 1960s.In his work The Crucified God Moltmann interprets the cry of Jesus on the cross, "my God my God why have you forsaken me" as a statement of solidarity, placing him in identification with all who feel abandoned by God.Whiteley: "If St. Paul can be said to hold a theory of the modus operandi [of the atonement] it is best described as one of salvation through participation [the 'solidarity' view]: Christ shared all of our experience, sin alone excepted, including death in order that we, by virtue of our solidarity with him, might share his life...Paul does not hold a theory of substitution..." (The Theology of St. Paul, 130)An example of one of the great classical theologians of the early church who held to a similar view is St. Irenaeus (according to Whiteley, 133).



2) Scrtiptural


...all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were Baptized into his death.? We were therefore buried with him in baptism into death in order that just as Christ was raised from the death through the glory of the father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him in his death we will certainly be united with him in his resurrection.For we know that the old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be rendered powerless, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.--because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.Now if we have died with Christ we believe that we will also live with him, for we know that since Christ was raised from the dead he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him; the death he died to sin he died once for all; but the life he lives he lives to God. In the same way count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.(Romans 6:1-5)



In Short, if we have united ourselves to Christ, entered his death and been raised to life, we participate in his death and resurrection thourgh our act of solidarity, united with Christ in his death, than it stands tto reason that his death is an act of solidarity with us, that he expresses his solidarity with humanity in his death.

This is why Jesus cries out on the cross "why have you forsaken me?" According to Moltmann this is an expression of Solidarity with all who feel abandoned by God.Jesus death in solidarity creates the grounds for forgiveness, since it is through his death that we express our solidarity, and through that, share in his life in union with Christ. Many verses seem to suggest a propitiatory view. But these are actually speaking of the affects of the solidarity. "Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! For if when we were considered God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! What appears to be saying that the shedding of blood is what creates forgiveness is actually saying that the death in solidarity creates the grounds for reconciliation. IT says we were enemies then we were reconciled to him thorugh the death, his expression of solidarity changes the ground, when we express our solidarity and enter into the death we are giving up to God, we move from enemy to friend, and in that sense the shedding of blood, the death in solidarity, creates the conditions through which we can be and are forgiven. He goes on to talk about sharing in his life, which is participation, solidarity, unity.



D. Meaning of Solidarity and Salvation.

Jurgen Moltmann's notion of Solidarity (see The Crucified God) is based upon the notion of Political solidarity. Chrsit died in Solidarity wiht victims. He took upon himself a political death by purposly angering the powers of the day. Thus in his death he identifies with victims of oppression. But we are all vitims of oppression. Sin has a social dimension, the injustice we experience as the hands of society and social and governmental institutions is primarily and at a very basic level the result of the social aspects of sin. Power, and political machinations begin in the sinful heart, the ego, the desire for power, and they manifest themselves through institutions built by the will to power over the other. But in a more fundamental sense we are all victims of our own sinful natures. We scheme against others on some level to build ourselves up and secure our conditions in life. IN this sense we cannot help but do injustice to others. In return injustice is done to us.Jesus died in solidarity with us, he underwent the ultimate consequences of living in a sinful world, in order to demonstrate the depths of God's love and God's desire to save us. Take an analogy from political organizing. IN Central America governments often send "death squads" to murder labor unionists and political dissenter. IN Guatemala there were some American organizations which organized for college students to go to Guatemala and escort the leaders of dissenting groups so that they would not be murdered.

The logic was that the death squads wouldn't hurt an American Student because it would bring bad press and shut off U.S. government funds to their military. As disturbing as these political implications are, let's stay focussed on the Gospel. Jesus is like those students, and like some of them, he was actually killed. But unlike them he went out of his way to be killed, to be victimized by the the rage of the sinful and power seeking so that he could illustrate to us the desire of God; that God is on our side, God is on the side of the poor, the victimized, the marginalized, and the lost. Jesus said "a physician is not sent to the well but to the sick."The key to salvation is to accept God's statement of solidarity, to express our solidarity with God by placing ourselves into the death of Christ (by identification with it, by trust in it's efficacy for our salvation).



E. Atonement is a Primetive Concept?


This charge is made quite often by internet-skeptics, especially Jewish anti-missionaries who confuse the concept with the notion of Human sacrifice. But the charge rests on the idea that sacrifice itself is a primitive notion. If one commits a crime, someone else should not pay for it. This attack can be put forward in many forms but the basic notion revolves around the idea that one person dying for the sins of another, taking the penalty or sacrificing to remove the guilt of another is a premitive concept. None of this applies with the Participatory view of the atonement (solidarity) since the workings of Christ's death, the manner in which it secures salvation, is neither through turning away of wrath nor taking upon himself other's sins, but the creation of the grounds through which one declares one's own solidarity with God and the grounds through which God accepts that solidarity and extends his own; the identification of God himself with the needs and crys of his own creation.

19 comments:

Interesting thoughts, and I wouldn't say you're totally wrong, but I do wonder how you can get past verses like 1 John 2:2, where it says explicitly that Jesus is the propitiation for our sins. I think the Bible is very clear on this matter - Jesus came because we needed him. I'm not sure that God truly could have done it any way that he desired to. God's justice demands certain things.

I personally think the financial analogy is very strong, and fits well with scripture. It's like someone who speeds and gets pulled over - they have to pay a fine. But if I didn't have the money to pay the fine, my brother could step in and say "I'll pay that for you" assuming I let him do so. Now, the analogy isn't perfect, because anyone could pay that money in that sense, whereas not just anyone could pay the debt in the theological sense. Only one could, and that's Jesus. His death is more than just Him dying, it's Him living perfectly as well. So in living perfectly, he has the right to pay the debt. That's where those verses from Romans come into play, and where I in part agree with your view. When we are baptized through our faith in Christ we are brought into Christ, and we thus God no longer sees the debt we owe, but the price Jesus paid. That's what it looks like 1 John (among other places) is saying to me.

Why is that view unacceptable? I think it's very easy to understand that we owed a debt that we could never pay, and so God became human so as to pay the debt, and our means of accepting that payment is by being brought into his blood.

I'm not sure I explained my view as deeply or technically as I think it ... but I just woke up so I'm doing my best. :)

Interesting thoughts, and I wouldn't say you're totally wrong, but I do wonder how you can get past verses like 1 John 2:2, where it says explicitly that Jesus is the propitiation for our sins.


Meta>>All of these models are used. salvation itself means a financial transaction. Certainly redemption is financial. So there are several contradictory views set forth by the same authors. 1 John 2:2 says "not only for our sins but for the sins of the whole world." are you a universalist? the Bible celarly teaches universalism! and also it doesn't!

It's a matter of which one is really meant, or which fits the most. Obviously they are all metaphors, and the writers are trying on different analogies trying to get one that fits best.




L I think the Bible is very clear on this matter - Jesus came because we needed him.

Meta>> did I say we don't need him? what is it about solidarity that suggests we don't need it?


I'm not sure that God truly could have done it any way that he desired to. God's justice demands certain things.

Meta>>On that matter I think the athestis are right. Of course he could have chosen any way. Why do you Christians always have to act like cultural constructs of the ancient world aer universal and make sense for all time? they don't. God is not a king, we don't have to be slaves, God could choose any form of atonement he wishes. why would you think God was forced to do this? don't you think God is all powerful?

there is nothing logically necessary about the method of atonement.




I personally think the financial analogy is very strong, and fits well with scripture.

Meta>>why would satan be charge of collecting debts? wehre does it say that satan is tax man?

why would you want to think of your life as nothing more than an economic commodity?




It's like someone who speeds and gets pulled over - they have to pay a fine. But if I didn't have the money to pay the fine, my brother could step in and say "I'll pay that for you" assuming I let him do so. Now, the analogy isn't perfect, because anyone could pay that money in that sense, whereas not just anyone could pay the debt in the theological sense. Only one could, and that's Jesus. His death is more than just Him dying, it's Him living perfectly as well. So in living perfectly, he has the right to pay the debt.


Meta>>why would that have anything to do with it? He still doesn't owe it, you do. Unless your soul is nothing but an object to be bought and sold like a can of beats or a umbrella stand, why would you want to see it that way?


That's where those verses from Romans come into play, and where I in part agree with your view. When we are baptized through our faith in Christ we are brought into Christ, and we thus God no longer sees the debt we owe, but the price Jesus paid. That's what it looks like 1 John (among other places) is saying to me.

Why is that view unacceptable? I think it's very easy to understand that we owed a debt that we could never pay, and so God became human so as to pay the debt, and our means of accepting that payment is by being brought into his blood.


Meta>>why would we owe a debt? you can say "O well, sin," but why owing? why not violating a rule. you can compare it to speeding but you don't do jail time for speeding. going to hell is more than speedind it's more capital punishment.

how do you answer Mike's question? why would God have to do it that way?





I'm not sure I explained my view as deeply or technically as I think it ... but I just woke up so I'm doing my best. :)


Meta>>I don't mean to offend you. I appreciate your comments. it's all just my opinion. It's not probably not worth that much anyway. I mean there's a real good chance I'm wrong.

for some reason those ideas just irk me.

Joe, thanks for sharing your views, but in all honesty, to me it just seems like an elaborate way to say "I know all those other theologians say they had it right, but I really have it right."

I said the drawbridge operator story was a poor allegory, but a common one for people to use to try to get the concept of atonement and sacrifice across. Another one is the push ups for donuts story. Both can make you weepy, but neither is really a good allegory for atonement of any variety.

Of course the god of the bible didn't have to do it the way the Bible says he did, that is my main point. He could have done anything.

You aid: "There are many verses in the Bible that seem to contradict this view. These are the verses which seem to say that Atonement is propitiatory."

So what do you do with those verses?

To tell the truth, I may end up some sort of theist some day, but the more people defend Christianity in any form, the more clear it becomes to me that it's just not something I can buy into.

Meta>>"why would satan be charge of collecting debts? wehre does it say that satan is tax man?"

Satan isn't the tax man, God is. I've only ever heard non-Christians and lukewarm Christians be confused and think Satan is the one being paid.

Joe, thanks for sharing your views, but in all honesty, to me it just seems like an elaborate way to say "I know all those other theologians say they had it right, but I really have it right."


where is the predominate version Mike? where does Paul say "Ok Peter doesn't get it but here's the real way it is? These are letters to churches writen over the span of 20 years. Don't you think he would come up with two or three different metaphors in that time? Then John is a whole different guy. See?

I said the drawbridge operator story was a poor allegory, but a common one for people to use to try to get the concept of atonement and sacrifice across. Another one is the push ups for donuts story. Both can make you weepy, but neither is really a good allegory for atonement of any variety.


don't you understand that those are not theology? when you get married the preahcers says "do you take so and so in sickness and hin health and so on." when you have been married a while you are at the breatkfat table you don't keep talking in vows right? "Do you mike take your turn to go to the story," and you "I do." when you are at the table eatting dinner you talk the same way you do when you make love right?

why would you expect people to express their idea the same way ever time for 20 years?

folksie analogies are not theology. The official doctrine is found in creeds and spelled out by councils it's not in little analogies preachers give in sermons.


Of course the god of the bible didn't have to do it the way the Bible says he did, that is my main point. He could have done anything.


but do you understand what he did do? Why? what's wrong with it?

You aid: "There are many verses in the Bible that seem to contradict this view. These are the verses which seem to say that Atonement is propitiatory."

So what do you do with those verses?


what did I say Mike? I said they are all different attempts to explain the same idea in many different ways.

To tell the truth, I may end up some sort of theist some day, but the more people defend Christianity in any form, the more clear it becomes to me that it's just not something I can buy into.


It's extremely insutling makes me very angry for you to say that because it tellms me you did not listen.

what I did was to show you why it is a powerful emotional symbols that speaks volumes to people all over the world and has for centuries and why. you dont' get get it. you don't even listen. all you want is the opportunity to do you little chruch; bahs thing. I'm atheist christians are stupid and Christantiy it'sn to logical yada yada you can't show what thte mothdr is deong with the idda1

face thje idea man! deal with the ideas!!!!!!!!!!

Satan isn't the tax man, God is. I've only ever heard non-Christians and lukewarm Christians be confused and think Satan is the one being paid.


I've heard people try to explain through the "we are in hock to satan" bit.

but you just can't take any old statement by any old christian as meaning what Chrsitainity is about. most chrsitins don't squat. ask most christians what is the tirntiy they go "I trhee something in something I dont' know." they dont' know. they dont' get trianed they go to seminary.

churches don't like to educate people about doctirne. ministers want to keep the knowledge for themselves so they have a job.

don't listen to ministers. don't listen to lay men. only believe seminary trained people or creeds, councils historians and theolgoians.

Joe,

I read what you wrote several times. Just because I don't agree with it does not mean I didn't pay attention.

You said: "The problem here is that he is being led astray by a bad rendition of the doctirne of atonement."

And later: "where is the predominate version Mike? where does Paul say "Ok Peter doesn't get it but here's the real way it is? These are letters to churches writen over the span of 20 years. Don't you think he would come up with two or three different metaphors in that time? Then John is a whole different guy. See?
"

My version of atonement came from scripture just like yours did. You choose to interpret them differently than I.

You said: "don't you understand that those are not theology?"

Yes, both times I mentioned these poor allegories I called them poor and insufficient to illustrate atonement. We agree, they are not theology, but some do take them as such. I do not.

You said: "why would you expect people to express their idea the same way ever time for 20 years?
"

I do not. Where did I say I did?

You said: "but do you understand what he did do? Why? what's wrong with it?"

Yes, I understand the various explanations of atonement, including yours. They are all just fine if you accept the premise. I do not. I'm sorry if this angers you.

You said: "what did I say Mike? I said they are all different attempts to explain the same idea in many different ways.
"

yes, but you also said: "The problem here is that he is being led astray by a bad rendition of the doctirne of atonement."

My views of the doctrine of atonement did not come from the mentioned allegories, I provided them as examples of insufficiency in explaining said doctrine.

I said: "To tell the truth, I may end up some sort of theist some day, but the more people defend Christianity in any form, the more clear it becomes to me that it's just not something I can buy into."

And you replied: "It's extremely insutling makes me very angry for you to say that because it tellms me you did not listen."

I'm sorry, you know I did not mean to be insulting, or anger you. Those are not tactics I choose to use, and I do not like to upset people, especially those I would call friend. Perhaps I should have said "To tell the harsh truth..." Again, just because I don't buy it does not mean I did not listen.

And then you said:
"what I did was to show you why it is a powerful emotional symbols that speaks volumes to people all over the world and has for centuries and why. you dont' get get it. you don't even listen. all you want is the opportunity to do you little chruch; bahs thing. I'm atheist christians are stupid and Christantiy it'sn to logical yada yada you can't show what thte mothdr is deong with the idda1

face thje idea man! deal with the ideas!!!!!!!!!!"

Joe, you know me better than that. I have great respect for a lot Christians, you included. I get the powerful symbolism I do, trust me, I'm moved by it, but that doesn't make it real to me.

I'm truly sorry to have insulted and angered you. I just, as I said above, do not accept the premise, thus I do not agree with the conclusions regardless of how good they may be.

Joe said: "don't listen to ministers. don't listen to lay men. only believe seminary trained people or creeds, councils historians and theolgoians."

Seriously? If I can't pick up the Bible and read it and understand it myself, what use is it? Jesus had a bunch of fishermen running around preaching and that seemed good enough for him.

I'd also like to point out that the blog that entry came from is one where I was recording my personal questions about my faith and subsequent de-conversion from said faith. None of the entries are meant to be taken as anything more than musings.

read what you wrote several times. Just because I don't agree with it does not mean I didn't pay attention.

I know. I did not mean for it to sound as angry as it did. I am no angry.

You said: "The problem here is that he is being led astray by a bad rendition of the doctirne of atonement."

And later: "where is the predominate version Mike? where does Paul say "Ok Peter doesn't get it but here's the real way it is? These are letters to churches writen over the span of 20 years. Don't you think he would come up with two or three different metaphors in that time? Then John is a whole different guy. See?
"

My version of atonement came from scripture just like yours did. You choose to interpret them differently than I.


Yes but my point is there is no one version that we can point to and say "this is the guide." We have to take general sense of the teaching over all.

You said: "don't you understand that those are not theology?"

Yes, both times I mentioned these poor allegories I called them poor and insufficient to illustrate atonement. We agree, they are not theology, but some do take them as such. I do not.


Ok sorry. I didn't catch that.

You said: "why would you expect people to express their idea the same way ever time for 20 years?
"

I do not. Where did I say I did?


guess I misunderstood.

You said: "but do you understand what he did do? Why? what's wrong with it?"

Yes, I understand the various explanations of atonement, including yours. They are all just fine if you accept the premise. I do not. I'm sorry if this angers you.


I am not angry. But I am confused as to why it doesn't mean anything to anyone. I think it's a spiffy concept. Then again i was in the central America movement and that concept comes out of liberation theology. It's meaningful to me because of its liberation overtones.

You said: "what did I say Mike? I said they are all different attempts to explain the same idea in many different ways.
"

yes, but you also said: "The problem here is that he is being led astray by a bad rendition of the doctirne of atonement."



My views of the doctrine of atonement did not come from the mentioned allegories, I provided them as examples of insufficiency in explaining said doctrine.


I see

I said: "To tell the truth, I may end up some sort of theist some day, but the more people defend Christianity in any form, the more clear it becomes to me that it's just not something I can buy into."

And you replied: "It's extremely insutling makes me very angry for you to say that because it tellms me you did not listen."


Ok I said I'm angry. well just a bit in that one place. but not over all. I'm not sitting around steaming about it.

I'm sorry, you know I did not mean to be insulting, or anger you. Those are not tactics I choose to use, and I do not like to upset people, especially those I would call friend. Perhaps I should have said "To tell the harsh truth..." Again, just because I don't buy it does not mean I did not listen.


I know. believe me I really appreciate your comments very much. I am very glad you are coming around here and commenting.

And then you said:
"what I did was to show you why it is a powerful emotional symbols that speaks volumes to people all over the world and has for centuries and why. you dont' get get it. you don't even listen. all you want is the opportunity to do you little chruch; bahs thing. I'm atheist christians are stupid and Christantiy it'sn to logical yada yada you can't show what thte mothdr is deong with the idda1

face thje idea man! deal with the ideas!!!!!!!!!!"


Joe, you know me better than that. I have great respect for a lot Christians, you included. I get the powerful symbolism I do, trust me, I'm moved by it, but that doesn't make it real to me.

I guess you have to be there.


I'm truly sorry to have insulted and angered you. I just, as I said above, do not accept the premise, thus I do not agree with the conclusions regardless of how good they may be.



No no maybe I was a bit touchy.

7/26/2008 02:55:00 PM
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Blogger Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Joe said: "don't listen to ministers. don't listen to lay men. only believe seminary trained people or creeds, councils historians and theolgoians."

Seriously? If I can't pick up the Bible and read it and understand it myself, what use is it?
well you do know it written in Greek and Hebrew right? what use it is depends upon what you want to use it for.


Jesus had a bunch of fishermen running around preaching and that seemed good enough for him.


but they didnn't live in very complex times, their audience was not as sophisticated as you or other 21st century Americans, who have telkivision, magazines, books libraries the internet they didn't have any of that. Their message was very simple.I can give you simple version. but you've already said that's not enough.

do you realize none of those Bible guys ever met an atheist? never. they never met a person who didn't believe in some God.


7/26/2008 02:59:00 PM
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Blogger Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

I'd also like to point out that the blog that entry came from is one where I was recording my personal questions about my faith and subsequent de-conversion from said faith. None of the entries are meant to be taken as anything more than musings.

7/26/2008 03:14:00 PM
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I realize that. I didn't mean insult it. I apologize if I impled that anything's wrong with it.

You know I'm high strung and I'm excitable. you know I'm passionate about things I believe in. I can be Jerk I try not to be. you are just lucky we are not having a political dispute.

Joe, if you're ever in Ohio, we've gotta go grab a beer or a coffee. :-)

If Jesus is part of God or Son of God he must be happy to die just like many Christian who are happy to die because they will go to heaven.

But that was not what happened. Jesus cried for help and he cried because God forsaked him.

Matthew 27:46 "Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema
sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken
me ?’ "


How are we sure Almight God the Creator does not forsake us just like what happened to Jesus.

arah asked: "How are we sure Almight God the Creator does not forsake us just like what happened to Jesus."

First off, what Jesus is purported to have said as his final words on the cross in Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34 was actually him quoting Psalm 22:1. I've heard it argued that while Jesus was dying on the cross he bore the weight of all our sins and that since God cannot look upon sin, he turned away and left Christ to die alone. If this is true, I would imagine it would be like the stories you hear of conjoined twins who are separated after being together for years. This would have been the only moment in all of history that God the Father and God the Son were not in direct contact.

There are other explanations and even one or two folks that say it was a mistranslation, though that is not a mainstream idea. You can read more here: Was Jesus Forsaken by God?

Will the god of the Bible abandon us like that? Because of Jesus' sacrifice, I would say no. Regardless of the different interpretations of the doctrine of atonement, as I understand it, they mostly agree that the crucifixion eliminated the separation between man and God, depending on what variation of Christianity one practices, some restrictions apply.

Matthew 27:51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;

To most, this act represents the new and final covenant.

Of course, most of what I just wrote is based on the theology I used to believe. Your mileage may vary. ;-)

Joe, if you're ever in Ohio, we've gotta go grab a beer or a coffee. :-)

you bet man. and ditto if you come to Texas.

arah asked: "How are we sure Almight God the Creator does not forsake us just like what happened to Jesus."

First off, what Jesus is purported to have said as his final words on the cross in Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34 was actually him quoting Psalm 22:1. I've heard it argued that while Jesus was dying on the cross he bore the weight of all our sins and that since God cannot look upon sin, he turned away and left Christ to die alone. If this is true, I would imagine it would be like the stories you hear of conjoined twins who are separated after being together for years. This would have been the only moment in all of history that God the Father and God the Son were not in direct contact.

Jurgen Moltmann argues the sense of abandonment Jesus experienced has to do with solidarity with those who feel abandoned by God.

There are other explanations and even one or two folks that say it was a mistranslation, though that is not a mainstream idea. You can read more here: Was Jesus Forsaken by God?

textual critics have textual problems with it. apparently its not in some early ms.

Will the god of the Bible abandon us like that? Because of Jesus' sacrifice, I would say no. Regardless of the different interpretations of the doctrine of atonement, as I understand it, they mostly agree that the crucifixion eliminated the separation between man and God, depending on what variation of Christianity one practices, some restrictions apply.

we will feel abandoned in life but feelings are not always indicative of the actual case.

Matthew 27:51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;

To most, this act represents the new and final covenant.

Of course, most of what I just wrote is based on the theology I used to believe. Your mileage may vary. ;-)


that's a pretty decent understanding of mainstream reformed Evangelical theology

All of these models are used. salvation itself means a financial transaction. Certainly redemption is financial. So there are several contradictory views set forth by the same authors. 1 John 2:2 says "not only for our sins but for the sins of the whole world." are you a universalist? the Bible celarly teaches universalism! and also it doesn't!

It's a matter of which one is really meant, or which fits the most. Obviously they are all metaphors, and the writers are trying on different analogies trying to get one that fits best.

I don't see any contradictory views anywhere. Could you point out some? That notwithstanding, I agree the writers use metaphors to point towards the same idea. Obviously 1 John is not preaching universalism, in the sense that we're thinking anyway. Jesus did die for the sins of the whole world, but it was conditional upon us accepting Him (John 14:23-24).

did I say we don't need him? what is it about solidarity that suggests we don't need it?

Well if you're saying God could have done it anyway he wanted (correct me if I'm misunderstanding), then it would seem to me that we didn't need Jesus to come. God could have simply decided to forgive us all and not worry about it.

On that matter I think the athestis are right. Of course he could have chosen any way. Why do you Christians always have to act like cultural constructs of the ancient world aer universal and make sense for all time? they don't. God is not a king, we don't have to be slaves, God could choose any form of atonement he wishes. why would you think God was forced to do this? don't you think God is all powerful?

there is nothing logically necessary about the method of atonement.

On the contrary, I think there is something logically necessary about the method of atonement. I do indeed believe God to be all powerful, but that does not mean, in my mind, that he can do anything at all. In fact, we're told specifically in the Bible that God cannot do anything (Heb. 6:18, James 1:13). My understanding of God's power is that he can do anything that's possible, and not contrary to his nature. So for instance, God could not make a square circle. That's not a possible thing. Neither could he lie, as that would be contrary to who and what God is. So, if God is just and perfectly so, then I think it is reasonable to suggest that Jesus had to die for us, as indeed Scripture suggests (Heb. 10).

As a side question, why do you say "you Christians"? Was that just a typo or am I missing something? I thought you were a Christian too?


why would satan be charge of collecting debts? wehre does it say that satan is tax man?

why would you want to think of your life as nothing more than an economic commodity?

I'm not sure when I implied that I thought satan is collecting some sort of debt. I don't think God owes satan anything. I think God's very nature required something that only He himself could give. I don't look at my life, or anyone else's, as a commodity. It is injected with value only through the power and love of God.

why would that have anything to do with it? He still doesn't owe it, you do. Unless your soul is nothing but an object to be bought and sold like a can of beats or a umbrella stand, why would you want to see it that way?

Again, I don't see it that way. But there was a fine that had to be paid, a debt owed, to God, and the simple fact was that only he could pay it. And out of his grace, he did. (Romans 5:6-21)

why would we owe a debt? you can say "O well, sin," but why owing? why not violating a rule. you can compare it to speeding but you don't do jail time for speeding. going to hell is more than speedind it's more capital punishment.

how do you answer Mike's question? Why would God have to do it that way?

You'll do jail time for speeding if you don't pay the fine. In this case, I couldn't pay the fine, so God took it and paid it himself, because again, he's the only one who could. That, coupled with what else I've said, is how I'd answer the question. God is righteous and just, and the only way that requisite of his nature could be met was by Jesus paying the price in our stead. That's what makes it all the more powerful for me, because God was under no requirement by anything to choose that path. He could have simply destroyed us all. But instead, he chose to free us by becoming one of us and then dying at our very hands. Kind of like what Philippians 2:5-11 points out.

I don't mean to offend you. I appreciate your comments. it's all just my opinion. It's not probably not worth that much anyway. I mean there's a real good chance I'm wrong.

for some reason those ideas just irk me.

I'm not offended :) I actually can understand how it might be irksome, and I should add that all of this I think is beyond the point that we can totally get it. Kind of like imagining what it's like to be a pregnant woman. I can have it described to me, and understand the process and all, but I'm not sure I can totally get it without being a pregnant woman. I know God did something, and I know it was great, and I know some of it is described to us, but there's a part of it I'm not sure we'll ever understand.

All the notions of humanity being in hock, Jesus paying the price, are wrong headed. They do not meaning anything and they make no logical sense. But if God has wrath, being in solidarity with God would turn it away. taking God up on an offer of solidarity would logically explain without the irksome folksy analogies like the king was angry but the peasants said "for the sake of you son" so the king because they said that.

meaningless emotional drivel.

You'll do jail time for speeding if you don't pay the fine. In this case, I couldn't pay the fine, so God took it and paid it himself, because again, he's the only one who could. That, coupled with what else I've said, is how I'd answer the question. God is righteous and just, and the only way that requisite of his nature could be met was by Jesus paying the price in our stead. That's what makes it all the more powerful for me, because God was under no requirement by anything to choose that path. He could have simply destroyed us all. But instead, he chose to free us by becoming one of us and then dying at our very hands. Kind of like what Philippians 2:5-11 points out.


why couldn't he cancel it? why is speeding wrong anyway? If God is making a gesture of solidarity it has meaning for all time and all circumstances. But as a direct propitiation of sin it makes no sense because God could declair amnesty, he could change the rules, which most people find unfair anway.

Solidarity is an interesting theme. And it has some legs. In a way, it kind of goes along with the Bride of Christ idea. What greater solidarity can we have with another person than to pledge our lives to "join" the other as one singular body.

But there is also a heavy theme of redemption. Yes, I can see how Yahweh has long held good intentions for us. Jesus echoes the kinsman redeemer in Ruth, who walks the land so as to redeem it. And, pardon the pun, the two concepts are wedded together with the ANE customs of marriage.

On the other hand, the grubby people that are depicted scrabbling around at each other for more power sure seem like they need *some* redemption. The way that it is stated, it sounds that it is a universally distributed fleshly struggle for power by which we wound each other. Surely God seeks to do more than express "solidarity" in our malice.

If God sought only to show us solidarity, so what? God showed me solidarity, it requires nothing more of me. We can even put it down to "God is God", He can reach down, I can't. And God should understand that about me. After all he's saying "I'm like you too."

But what is really impressive about God saying that is that He is not like us. The human we call "Raca" is closer to us than we can ever dream of being to God. And yet we cut people off, lock them in drawers, distance ourselves. But God resists accenting the differences, bridges the gap and proposes that we can become one with Him.

There is that thinking that if a man purchases a bride, that it is no more than a financial transaction. But there are no financial transaction where two become one as a result of procuring what was desired. When a man pays for a bride, it is far more than a market transaction. It means that we have surrendered our time and sweat and we truly value that person.

If you buy a can of peaches today, you'll probably buy another one next week. Hopefully, a wife will last a lifetime.

But if that strikes one as crude, there is a modern case like it. Today, we don't pay for the wife, but the event. Do we tarnish our wedding rings because by exchanging money for them? No, they are symbols of union, and in a sentimental sense worth so much more than any money we paid for them.

Consumption makes things commodities paying an opportunity price--which is the basics of Economics--doesn't. Mass production cheapens things, buying a one-of-a-kind masterwork doesn't. And, anyway, Jesus wasn't buying us with savings from a summer job, or two years or nights and weakened. Not sweat, but blood.

In the end, I think all the metaphors build on each other. That said, I want to say something about the pejorative "primitive".

You wrote elsewhere that liberal theology is more about man's need for God. Well, if this is true, it might well have been true in the first beings that we can call "Man". And yet, although this might precede or occur with sacrifice, it doesn't seem that it's being an early development pushes it into the area of "primitive". Instead man's need for God is simply "universal", so how is it impossible that even in it's debased and confused forms it is a universal assent to divine sacrifice.

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