This is my personal blog, on which I talk about a variety of topics purely as they catch my fancy. Some topics are serious, others whimsical. I love comments and questions so don't be shy, just courteous, even if you don't agree with me. I have another blog, The Story Template, on which I post writing-related topics on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Let's see, a bit about me... I'm married with two children, and spend much time taking care of our family. In my life BC (before children) I was a scientist who did bench research. I am a Christian who came to faith under protest through studying the historic circumstances surrounding the death of Jesus. I've written one novel, A Lever Long Enough, that I'm honored to say has won two awards. I also have written a nonfiction book, The Story Template: Conquer Writer's Block Using the Universal Structure of Story. This book is a programmed learner-type book that helps you, the writer, develop a complete compelling story (novel or screenplay) from a vague idea.

YOU CAN CONTACT ME at amydeardon at yahoo dot com.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Question: Wasn't Jesus' Death a Form of Murder?

People know my interest in Christian Apologetics and occasionally ask me questions. Here's a good one:

Why, if God is all powerful, and I think we both accept that premise, would God need humans to offer a blood sacrifice for their sin, ie the martyring of Christ? Can't God just see who is good and who chooses to be other than? Why would we have to shed blood when the commandments say thou shall not kill/murder? I honestly don't get the concept.

Here's my answer:

Great question! I'm noticing that within this question you're assuming that some humans are good enough to be with God, whereas other humans "choose to be other than." This idea is overwhelmingly common -- in fact, all religions aside from Christianity have a "works theology" in which if the person does certain things, and/or avoids certain things, he will (or could be) "good enough" to earn his way into heaven. By contrast, Christianity asserts in no uncertain terms that humans are "desperately wicked" (Jeremiah 17:9) and will never be good enough to be with God, no matter how many prayers they say or how many good deeds they perform. Most of Jesus' confrontations with the Pharisees were about them thinking they were righteous by being born Jews and by following Moses' law (all 613 commandments in the Torah), while Jesus raised the stakes by saying you commit adultery if you just look at a woman lustfully, and you murder if you are just angry. Jesus' point was that no one could ever follow God's laws well enough to be as righteous as God. Jesus told the Pharisees they would never enter God's Kingdom until and unless they stopped relying on their own deeds and accepted God's assessment of sinfulness and his forgiveness. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23). I can expand upon this point of man's depravity if needed.

Because humans are all sinful, there is a requirement of the shedding of blood to cover sin so that humans may be declared righteous, despite the fact that they will never be good enough by their own deeds to be able to be with God. You might look at it this way: suppose I break a lamp in your house. You can know that I didn't mean to do it, and that I'm basically careful with objects. You might further decide to forgive me and tell me not to worry about it. However, this doesn't change the fact that the lamp is broken. If you forgive me from having to replace it, then you yourself will have to pay the price of buying a new lamp, fixing the broken one, or living without light at night. Similarly, even though God loves us desperately, and even if he forgives us, there is a rift in the universe when we go against his will (sin) that must be paid for somehow. Either we pay for it, or God through the sacrifice of Jesus pays for it.

God set up the blood sacrificial system (both animals and Jesus) as a tangible system that works on a tangible earth for us to understand what goes on in a spiritual dimension. A great price of some sort is required to repair the rift between God and us because of our sin; sacrificing a life is a good tangible representation of the egregious size of this rift.

I'd also like to note the following: From how this question is worded, it sounds like this person is truly keeping an open mind and is willing to consider different viewpoints. This is important. For what it's worth, in my experience with skeptics there are almost always deep emotional difficulties that prevent the person's considering God. Often intellectual difficulties are thrown up as a smoke screen. When talking with the person, it's important to humbly listen and to understand their emotional catches. The goal is to bring the person to fairly consider God and Christianity, rather than to "win" the argument through strong intellectual arguments without care for the person.

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