I’m really okay with Jesus being a historical figure. A poor man who saw the evils in the world and spoke about being kind and caring to each other. For this he was killed by a brutal Roman occupation force. What I have trouble accepting is that he was a human sacrifice to atone for the crimes/sins of others. My 21st century morality doesn’t feel that it is moral to kill an innocent person for the crimes/sins of others.
He made it clear that he was laying down his life voluntarily.
Does that make it okay? If a mother came forth offering to be executed in the place of her convicted serial rapist/killer son, would you petition the judge to make this switch in the name of justice?
Thete is another “model” of the atonement quite clearly taught in the Scriptures, Patrick. Have you ever heard of the Christus Victor model?
I could never figure out why atonement was needed for two people in a fanciful creation story eating from a particular tree in a garden. Look at the injustice here. A fictitious first couple sneaks a god forbidden piece of fruit at the suggestion of a talking devil possessed snake and then thousands of years later an innocent man/God must be brutally turtured to death.
You’ll be happy to know that many Christians throughout the ages have the same objection, and that the “participatory” model is currently gaining support among mainstream theologians. This view (which historically preceded the “penal substitution” view), can be found in early Christian commentary of the first few centuries. There’s a useful paper explaining it, here.
Considering I am currently embroiled in a WWII morality case in a neighboring thread, I find it awkward to suggest that the metaphysics of the death of Jesus is not a relevant discussion. It is certainly more relevant than my WWII discussion is.
But I think I have something that you, a free-thinker, will find impressive and intriguing.
Generations before the birth of Jesus, the Carthaginians were engaged in a war with the Greeks … in Sicily. And there was a General Hamilcar who decided to invoke Phoenician-style theology in this dire situation: He sacrificed his life by throwing himself into a fire - - so that his army would be favored by the Gods, and would be victorious.
It just so happens, that soon after his self-sacrifice, his army lost! What a buzz-kill, yes? But it is written that once a year the Carthaginians celebrated this particular Hamilcar’s death, as an act of devotion, and Hamilcar as a “deified” God!
This is quite consistent with Phoenician metaphysics. The foundation story of Tyre includes the story of Melkart, a mortal, throwing himself into a sacred tree burning (without being consumed!) … so that the islands that were floating freely in the ocean would become fixed… and become the land of Melkart’s descendants. And his descendants would revere him as a new God in the pantheon of the region. Every year, Tyre threw a celebration to wake up the slumbering mortal-turned-God … .
The broad strokes of Phoenician religion were certainly as well known as the less palatable stories about sacrificing children - - stories which fills the Old Testament as well. Naturally, those who rejected Phoenician ways and Phoenician reputation, would develop other explanations for why the crucifixion of a man would do anybody any good. You, as a man of no religion, would certainly find this at least a little more plausible than the average Christian would. The average Christian also hears the story of the Transfiguration (where Elijah and Moses join Jesus in a good glowing!)…
But here too, I think you would appreciate the alternate scenario that the Enochian movement during the time of Jesus saw Elijah and Moses as saintly men who never actually died… they were assumed into God’s realm … and basically became “as angels”! This alternate explanation proposes that the Transfiguration was the earlier version of the Jesus story, where these two saintly heroes of the faith joined to “angelize” Jesus … and thus make him divine. As the scenario goes, it would be very soon that writers celebrating Jesus would decided he was “angelized” from the very moment of his birth! And so, the Transfiguration would have to become a gesture … an ornament … rather than the creation of his divinity.
For your viewing pleasure, below is Heinrich’s presentation of the Transfiguration. I suppose some of the younger crowd might at first mistake it for a scene from Star Wars . . .
Those are good stories to inspire an army into battle in ancient time. But this is the 21st century. Don’t we know that crashing airplanes into buildings in the name of God is morally wrong?
The stories are to explain that before Jesus … there were Phoenicians killing themselves for God and their fellow humans.
The Christian interpretation … of blood sacrifice … are you going to say that God doesn’t like a good Barbecue!?
In any case, Jesus chose a way other than burning. And I’ve always liked the scenario described in the old book, The Passover Plot. I found it pretty persuasive!
But, in the end, when a God “dies” … is it really the same as when a human dies? If the man who designs the whole system decides to call it a day … are you going to insist that he cannot?
Patrick, your rhetorical approach is a dog whistle for other atheists … it is not going to make a dent in any average Christian.
Then why do so many 21st century people do just that or allow that to happen?
Don’t know. But at least we try to minimize civilian casualties in military operations as well as law enforcement operations. Also our secular criminal justice system is well advanced to make sure innocent people are not punished for the crimes of others.
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