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Why God Would Not Require A Human Sacrifice For The Sins Of Humanity

And other thoughts on the religion of Jesus

If God is love, if love is an integral part of God’s essence, then God must act with and by love — no exceptions. If God does not condone violence, injustice, hatred, and vengefulness in humanity, then God would need to live up to at least as high of a standard.

Love does not require the ones loved to prove they are worthy or to make sacrifices, of themselves or of others, in order to be loved. Love does not insist on being served by and pleased by the other. And yet this is precisely how many portray God as being — as one who needs to be appeased in order to keep on loving us and counting us as worthy of love.

The rationalization that God needed a reason to go on loving the world, and that a blood sacrifice was required to atone for humanity’s otherwise unforgivable sins, was a projection of those humans who felt that they and/or humanity was unworthy of being loved without some price being paid. Of course, if you require a price to be paid in order to love someone, then you really aren’t loving them.

Blood atonement, for any reason, is barbarous. A compassionate and loving human being, much less God, would never condone torture and murder for any reason. Compassion and love don’t require violence, injustice, and the taking of human, or other, lives in order to prove another’s loyalty and worth. The means and the end need to be congruent. If love is the end you pursue, then you must always and ever act with love.

Substitutionary atonement theory is a human conception that can’t affirm that the divine image was created in each of us. If we can’t imagine that compassion and love reside in every person, as covered up as it may be, then it is likely that our view of God will resemble our view of humanity. If God needed someone to die in order to offer grace, that is not real grace.

To have a retributive or punitive view of dealing with human errors is what happens when we can’t imagine, much less trust, that love and compassion are the proper solutions to the problems of the world. Forgiveness, accountability/restitution, reconciliation, and restoration are the methods and goals of compassion.

If we conceive of God as being able to break these rules and live outside these virtues, then we are in effect saying that God is denying God’s very nature. This is to make God incongruent.

Unfortunately, humanity has often been fine with God being incongruent, for this conception of God has served our own purposes. If God can be conceived of as not always compassionate and loving and just, then it makes it far easier for us to justify our not living up to such standards.

If lying, cheating, stealing, killing, and such are justified in human-created scriptures, and even justified by having said that God commanded it for some greater good, then how simple it is for us to justify our own indiscretions to act in ways that are not compassionate and loving. Wars were justified in the Bible, not because this is consistent with God’s values, but because it excused human atrocities.

Likewise, the substitutionary atonement theory was created to once and for all excuse human sinfulness with the thought that Jesus paid the price for all of our sins. All we have to do is believe the right things and God will magically forgive us of all evils and welcome us into paradise.

This, of course, was not Jesus’ view. He told us to follow in his ways, not simply believe in him. To him, believing in him was following the way of love and compassion that he lived. To Jesus, the saving grace he offered was not to offer himself as an atoning blood sacrifice for our sins, but to show us how to love one another. It is his example, not him the person, that saves. By living by his virtues and values, sin would be dead to us; we’d have life abundant with goodness (i.e., love and compassion).

No one but ourselves wipes away our sins for us. We are each accountable for our own. Is this not only fair? And we can only wipe them away by no longer living in them. By adopting Jesus’ values, which are God’s values, we transform our lives, our conduct, and our character. This is what it means to have God’s Spirit living in us: that we not only think with compassion and love, but that we act by them too.

And if we so live by love and compassion, it soon becomes clear that there is no need that someone has to die as a ransom for our sins. God does not require a ransom to love us. And God does not even require that we follow Jesus to love us. God so loved us all that Jesus and others have shown us that love and compassion are the things that will bless our lives so that we live abundantly and in the state of spiritual joy known as eternality.

Rev. Bret S. Myers, 3/9/2018

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