Benediction Online

Saturday, March 17, 2012

What’s the Problem with “Jesus died on the Cross for our Sins”?

This week someone told me that they couldn’t deal with the “whole Christianity thing”. When I asked which bit was particularly difficult to swallow, she said “well the whole thing - Jesus dying for our sins.”

We learned it in Sunday School, we hear it from all the prominent preachers and televangelists. Everyone knows that Christianity is about Jesus dying for our sins because we are such schmucks.

But is it?

Since about the 11th century the Church has taught that Jesus died on the cross because God’s sense of justice meant that someone had to die for our sin. So God as Jesus took it upon Godself to die in our place. This was further developed during the Reformation when our degradation in sin was stressed together with God’s grace which allowed Jesus to die in our place and saves us from our sin. Today lost of questions are being asked about everything including whether this makes sense with what we know about God.

We know that Jesus taught us to be peaceful, forgiving and to avoid violence in all its forms and that Jesus practiced non-violent resistance. If Jesus is the Christ, one of the three Persons of the Trinity then what is true of him must also be true of the Father/Creator and of the Spirit. So God must be non-violent (or else Jesus is not God, but that’s a whole different conversation).

If God is non-violent then why would he demand that ANYONE die a violent death in order to achieve “justice”?

Here’s the alternative: Jesus the Christ was incarnated as a human man to show us the kingdom of God which he embodied in his life and explained in his teaching. We humans were so enmeshed in the sin-system that people couldn’t stand his message and killed him. By resurrecting Jesus, God demonstrated another aspect of God’s kingdom – complete and total victory over the sin-system whose most powerful weapon to keep us all in line is the fear of death. Those of us who choose to sign up for the kingdom of God now get to demonstrate by our lives that we are part of that victory.

If it wasn't Lent I'd say "alleluia".


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