Sunday, November 23, 2014

Why Jesus Dying For You Is Not As Heroic As It Sounds

Or, Why The Resurrection of Jesus Really Isn't That Great

Even back in my believing days, I had a question:

If Jesus loved me and died for my sins, (which is very sweet of him to do) and he had power over death, why is that such a big deal?  Why is it a sacrifice if he could just come back to life again?

Jesus has power over death.  He dies for me.  He comes back to life a few days later.

That's like someone with unlimited resources giving $1,000 to a charity and then taking it back a few days later.  If you have the ability to come back to life whenever you want then 1) you're not really dead, but more importantly 2) dying for someone or something isn't anything noble.  It's not a sacrifice if you can give something but then take it right back.

It seems that there is no sacrifice at all of the part of Jesus.  The soldiers throughout history who have died for our freedoms sacrificed much more than Jesus because they are permanently dead.  They gave their LIVES for a cause.  JESUS JUST LET US BORROW HIS FOR A WEEKEND!  That's not a sacrifice!

Okay, okay, even if the story of the resurrection really was true, that's cool and all.  Jesus can come back to life.  Wow, I wish I had that power.  If someone really did have power over death, there is no question that would be amazing and miraculous.  But why does Jesus get all this hype and praise for doing something that, to him, is just another day at the beach?

And why was all this necessary in the first place?  God's great "plan" to counteract the effects of sin are to have Jesus tortured to death... Ok, and what is that supposed to accomplish?  How does Jesus' death translate into salvation for everyone who believes it happened?  And why is belief the only condition on which this "sacrifice" is predicated?

The more I think about it, the more absurd it becomes and the more questions are raised.  But the main point of this post is to show that:



luksky said...

The whole Jesus story always seemed a little far-fetched to me also, even as a kid. It was about as believable as the big fat guy in a red suit on a sleigh delivering Christmas presents to the whole in one night.

Hakam Adam said...

The mistake here is in thinking that physical death is the focus. That's not what the Bible teaches (Reformed, here, not a Mormon).

Instead it teaches that death is not the cessation of 'life,' but the unnatural separation of a living being from the source of its life. Man-God, Man's body-Man's soul, God-God.

It was not in dying that Jesus did His miraculous deed. That was just the necessary finishing touch, a bit of a technical requirement.

But what He really sacrificed was His relationship to the Father. For 3 hours, He was spiritually separated from the Father and they were not in communion, as they have/are/will be in all other possible places in time and space from eternity past to eternity future.

For a finite being, dying or suffering can only be experienced to a finite degree. But for an infinite being, He has the capacity to experience an infinite amount of suffering in a finite time (in contrast to finite humans experiencing an finite torment for an infinite time in hell). Therefore, He was able to take the equivalent justice of infinite sentences in hell for all the finite number of individuals who would accept His offer to trade places.

His sacrifice was that He experienced an infinite anguish, as only an infinite being can, and the fact that it was of finite temporal duration is of no consequence.

Hope this helps.

Hakam Adam said...

You could see it, in the sense that all parts of time are always accessible to God, as Him having perfect harmony within Himself (Father-Son-Spirit) whenever He interacts with every portion of time and space on the eternal spectrum,

except one. Because the Crucifixion is not actually "in God's past," because He's eternal, it is essentially a permanent scar on God, that He will never in eternity be able to have communion with His Son in that portion of time and space, such that every time He visits it, which would be an infinite amount in an eternity, He feels the pain of that separation.

That is certainly an infinite sacrifice.

Hakam Adam said...

"And why was all this necessary in the first place? God's great "plan" to counteract the effects of sin are to have Jesus tortured to death... Ok, and what is that supposed to accomplish? How does Jesus' death translate into salvation for everyone who believes it happened? And why is belief the only condition on which this "sacrifice" is predicated?"

Oh, didn't see all of this at first. So many fundamental misunderstandings of salvation.

Here we go. The message is this: God has a holy standard, which is perfection--this is not arbitrary because it is based on His nature, who God is. He coexists perfectly with Himself, but can't coexist with what is antagonistic to Him, not because it would weaken Him, but because in His omnipotence it would be destroyed. Enter the paradox of how sinful people can survive God's presence. His holiness would destroy us or cast us out. So, how to resolve it? We need to somehow be made holy. But our sin debt against Him needs to be paid.

Every sin, even if it is claimed to be finite in temporal effect, is a transgression against an infinitely holy God, and therefore an infinitely evil deed, and worthy of infinite punishment. Finite beings can't satisfy infinite punishments in a temporary time frame but must face finite torment for an infinite time -- hell.

Enter a magnificent solution. Rather than obligate every believer to perform Herculean labors, God offers a great exchange. As an infinite being, He can take the place of a human, live a perfect life and die the death that men deserve. He has the capacity to take the infinite punishment against the infinite God, in a temporally limited engagement.

So He does. Jesus is God in the flesh, who came and lived a perfect life, so that He Himself was guiltless of sin and not worthy of the punishment for sin. So when He died, He offers to take OUR punishment FOR us. Then, with our debt paid, we can't be punished again. It would be double jeopardy to go to hell. We are free to enter heaven not because we are good, but because we are deemed righteous by Jesus' vicarious atonement *on our behalf.*

That's how Jesus' death accomplishes salvation.

And the reason faith is the only way you can receive it is for the reasons described--we can't earn our way to heaven because our evil deeds prevent us. We are utterly dependent on Jesus taking our punishment. And nothing we did contributed to His crucifixion except our sins. So there simply is no room for deeds in salvation. We can only receive forgiveness through the recognition of all I said above, and the sincere belief that it is true, and in the repentance of our sinful nature (we submit it to Him, we turn away from it and strive to live godly lives--not as a prerequisite for salvation, but as an earnest result, a product of salvation. It can't fail to change your life if you believe it, so turning from sin, despite your failure to succeed in it perfectly, is a given, it is expected if you truly love and are grateful to God for what He has done), and in asking Him for forgiveness--to apply our sins to His account, and apply His righteousness to our account. Freely forgiven and esteemed righteous by His works alone, we can enter heaven simply by faith, with no further requirements.

This is the Gospel message.

Brad said...

Your post reminded me of statement made by Julia Sweeney in her show "Letting go of God" (I encourage all to listen to it). In it she says the following, which rang true to me, among many other things she talks about:

"Why would a God create people so imperfect, then blame them for their own imperfections, then send his son to be tortured and executed by those imperfect people, to make up for how imperfect people were and how imperfect they inevitably were going to be?"

There have been many stories about gods with miracle births, death and resurrections years before Christianity ever existed. Jesus is just culmination of these other myths, that people use to control others.

It nice to see that there is a growing number of people who are realizing that you can be good and wonderful people without god in their lives.

Thanks for the your post!

Mormon411 said...

Hakam Adam,

That's a lot of good sounding bullshit.

Do you have any evidence to back it up?

Hakam Adam said...

"Clearly I'm just trying to make the evidence fit my beliefs.. no wait, that's what religious people do."

We have a winner! Putting two and two together = you're religiously minded.

Must be infuriating for someone who thinks he's superior to everyone else to be confronted with the idea that you're really just like them, on the inside.

"You believe god tortured his favorite son to death so you could feel better about yourself"

NOPE! Try again. (Seriously, do you really believe this or is it just derisive mockery to avoid dealing with the actual content of Christian belief?)

"Faith is the act of believing in something which has no evidence."

It's not the greatest mark of an intellectual mind to choose the author of Huckleberry Finn's definition for "faith" over that of Webster's College Dictionary.

But more to the point, if you're really intending to criticize beliefs based in the Bible, wouldn't it at least be intellectually consistent to consider the Bible's definition of faith?

"Now faith is the confidence in things hoped for, the assurance of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1

Nothing in there about there not being proof. In fact, some translations will render the latter half as "the evidence of things not seen." A Biblical view of faith doesn't shy away from evidence.

So why are you taking the words of a 19th century American fiction author to define the meaning of a word used by 16th century translators of a 1st century document, in order to criticize the 1st century document?

It's illogical. I thought you said you used reason to 'deconvert'. Might I suggest using reason to criticize Christianity...if that can even be done.

Hakam Adam said...

"So the bottom line is, most people are raised in the religion of their parents/culture. So trying to make me look narrow minded for pointing out this FACT only makes you look desperate for an argument."

Hardly. I'm merely pointing out something you're ignoring: that if the same testimony can exist for both sides of the controversy, then your as well as my personal history of "reasoning leading to (dis)belief" cannot in itself be valid as an actual argument against the other side. In other words, your use of your deconversion story in your original post is logically inconsistent and misleading to any audience, since you hold that up as a justification for mocking the apparent illogicality of 'religion' in general and Christianity and the heresy of Mormonism in particular.

IOW, henceforth if you are honest, you'll avoid doing so. If you do continue, just remember reading this and know that you're being illogical every time you try to refer to yourself as a reason for not believing in God.

"Focus on the important stuff here. I claim that your beliefs are stone-age stories. Why don't you dispute that?"

Because those are errant factual claims, whereas the prior concern was an inconsistent mode of thinking. There's really no hope in convincing someone what truth is, if the framework for the way they think is contrary to the one you're using in your attempt to persuade them. Certainly you would agree with this in respect to Mormons, wouldn't you? It's also true in respect to how I'm approaching your views. It's not, as I see it, the actual claims you give that are the main issue (since most of them could hardly be convincing, intellectually satisfying reasons for disbelief in themselves), but that your approach to reasoning about Christianity ham-strings your ability to "focus on the important stuff," as you put it.

I'm not aiming to derisively insult you, here, though you may get the impression that I consider some aspects of your thinking/beliefs pettily unworthy of attention. That's certainly true. The real reason here isn't facts. I could barrage you with three hundred unique evidences that strongly undermine crucial points of the position you hold on the nature of reality, but that wouldn't do much good, because you have a framework in place to disregard them. It's the framework that needs to be addressed. If your thinking can be shown to be inconsistent, the hope is that if you're an honest intellectual, at least to yourself, that you'd become open to questioning whether your present beliefs are really the final word on truth, after all.

That's complete transparency, there. And outside of misunderstanding, there's nothing in there that you can really be critical of, from a philosophical standpoint. It's eminently reasonable and probably will give you some perspective as to how to approach the issue of worldviews in your own future experience.

Hakam Adam said...

Final short responses

"Why do people cling to religion despite the fact that they have no evidence to support it; in fact, there is evidence to the contrary?"

That's an easy thing to answer; it always has to do with motives. People have the capacity to be logical, but what explains irrationality is always that they preferentially defer to satisfying some personal desire, rather than conforming to what they know to be true. From this discontinuity in their reasoning process, all manner of invalid and unsound reasoning erupts. From a modal logic standpoint, it can be put at least two ways: the classic, "anything follows from a contradiction" (the contradiction being their initial denial of truth), and the other being that since their reasoning is incomplete, because of 'jumping over' the uncomfortable thing they refuse to believe, their beliefs contain an incomplete proof. An incomplete proof can not prove anything. If you can't prove anything, what's another word for that, but that "they don't have a reason for what they believe?" And that's where the irrationality comes from. Choosing to satisfy personal urges rather than accept uncomfortable truths.

Of course, my definition of "religion" is different from yours. You probably use it to refer to anyone with a deist/theistic worldview, whereas I would use it to refer to anyone who exhibits devotion to a metaphysical belief system (which covers everybody including whom you'd term 'irreligious'), and specifically, anyone who pursues a system of personal self-governance that is intended to satisfy deep human yearnings for truth, purpose, meaning, potential, glory, happiness, success, etc. The latter is essentially synonymous with 'man-made religion,' and ergo, includes everyone (again including atheists) except Biblical Christians.

I don't make this distinction as a merely self-serving one, but because there's a real distinction between the goal and manner of pursuit between man-made religion and 'true religion.' They fall neatly into two categories, which can almost be summed up by the answer to the question, "what do I need to do to be a good person?"

Hakam Adam said...

"My question is this: even most religious people will admit there is no evidence for the existence of god. So why then do they cling to it?"

Part of it is cultural, that they've bought into the oft-trumpeted claim that you made earlier about the definition of faith. They don't want to be faithless, so obviously they'll defend their faith as being in...nothing tangible. There's also an Eastern influence in modern religion, where people think that they are "purer" and more holy than guys like me if they can say that they don't have to "depend" on reasons to believe in God.

Really, that's just nonsense. If you don't have a reason to believe in something, then you don't have a reason to believe it, ergo, you should not believe it. That's what it means to be reasonless! I find much more in common with the 'atheist intellectualist' in this area than with emotionalists like the type I described.

The simple fact is that they are wrong. There are reasons to believe in God, and God's existence can be proved. What does it mean to be proven but to be able to follow validly from a logical proof? If it cannot be proven, it is without reason, and it is unjustified=it should not be believed. So if it should be believed at all, it must be provable.

This is simple stuff. But it's amazing how little the majority seem to have thought about it.

The question of whether something can be proven validly, and whether it is agreed to be sound, or whether proving God is the same as making Him undeniable are separate concerns from the core logic.

Obviously God is not undeniable, because people deny Him all the time. I would say that His truth is irrefutable, because it can be challenged, but never succeeds, or will succeed, in being *proven* unsound, let alone invalid.

Hope this wasn't too much reading. It's very easy for me to write lengthy treatments of concerns of interest.

~ Hakam

Terribly sorry for the multiple posts. I exceeded the character limit 3 times. :P

Hakam Adam said...

Oh nooooooo. I responded to the wrong post. It was intended to go here: