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Did God Really Demand the Death of His Son as a Sacrifice for Sin?

One of the more poignant arguments against Christianity is that the Christian God demanded that his son be offered up as a human blood sacrifice in order for justice to be satisfied and forgiveness offered. In this view the Christian God is an angry, blood thirsty tyrant who must be sated before he becomes a loving father. Christians will of course argue that people who view the crucifixion this way are missing the point, don’t understand God’s righteous anger, are minimizing the need for justice, etc. However, I think that the real truth is that many Christians misunderstand the reasons for the crucifixion and our critics are simply making some pretty obvious observations about our own teachings regarding the propitiation of sins and the death of Jesus. I know that I’m treading on some pretty hallowed theological ground here, but if you’ll stick with me, I think you may find that my upside down world understanding of this issue is a better fit with reality than what many of us have been taught.

Let’s start our discussion with the issue of blood sacrifice itself. The first thing to be noted is that blood sacrifice is not something which originated with the Hebrew God. It had been practiced for millennia prior and has occurred all over the world. It is a human invention. In his excellent book Ideas That Changed the World, Felipe Fernandez-Armesto offers the anthropological explanation for the pervasiveness of the practice of blood or animal sacrifice:

Gifts are a common way of establishing reciprocity and cementing relationships between individuals and human groups; by extension, a gift should also work to bind gods and spirits to the human givers, connecting deities to the profane world and alerting them to its needs and concerns. . . During the last 10 millennia . . . sacrifice has acquired a great many meanings: as penance for sin; as thanksgiving; as homage to divinity; as a contribution to the well-being of the Universe; or as a sacrilized gift, considered as an act of worship or of imitation of God.

One of the things which we need to understand about God as revealed in scriptures is that over and over again, God does not wait for us to become acceptable or advanced enough to establish a relationship with him. Instead, he reaches out to meet us where we are and bit by bit draws us forward towards him and away from our previous ideas and ways of doing things. The rituals of animal sacrifices did not reflect a need or demand of God. Instead, by instituting rituals of animal sacrifice God is co-opting a human institution and way of doing things and directing it back to himself with the ultimate result that the human institution drops away while the devotion to God remains.

If we look in scripture the first offering made to God is made by Cain and Abel, which did not turn out so well. But it was not an offering in response to a demand of God. We don’t know what prompted them to make their offerings to begin with; perhaps they were imitating the actions of others around them. The second instance of animal sacrifice which appears in scripture is when God makes his covenant with Abram. Again it is not a sacrifice made in response to a demand on God’s part. The purpose of this sacrifice isn’t Abram seeking to appease or please God, but God’s way of demonstrating his commitment to Abram and the promises made to him. The specific actions of the ritual – cutting the animals in half and passing between them – are noted in other contemporary accounts as a form of sealing an agreement between two parties. The implication was that if either party broke the covenant, they would be cut in half like the sacrificed animals had been. So, we see clearly here God using a ritual of mankind’s own making that Abram would understand and be comfortable with. The first example we have of God demanding a ritual sacrifice is when God tells Abram, now Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. At this time, God then provides a substitution for the sacrifice and the boy’s life is spared. In fact, the first actual instructions from God regarding ritual animal sacrifice don’t come until the law is given through Moses hundreds of years later. By that time, the Hebrews had been living among the Egyptians for many, many generations and would have been heavily influenced by Egyptian religious practices which included animal sacrifices.

I’ve gone through all of this out simply to establish that animal or blood sacrifice did not originate with demands from God at all. Instead, they are almost certainly an example of God meeting people where they were and using what they were already familiar with to turn them towards himself. God didn’t need animals sacrificed to him. But people needed assurances that they were acceptable, forgiven and in right relationship with their God. God uses the already familiar rituals of animal sacrifices to meet the needs of the people, not to meet his own blood thirsty demands.

So we get to the time of Jesus. One of the pressing issues of the religious community during Jesus day was the keeping of the law. The Hebrews were, of course, living under Roman occupation and the keeping of the law had in many ways become a nationalistic rather than a spiritual pursuit. This is part of what accounts for the zealousness of parts of the religious establishment; breaking the Hebrew law was not simply a demonstration of a lack of faith – it was akin to treason. Keeping the peculiar laws of the Hebrew bible was what ensured that the Hebrews would remain a separate nation that could take its rightful place when the Messiah arrived and lead them to victory over their oppressors. In this environment, the law and the sacrifices no longer served to turn the people’s hearts and devotions towards God, but  often served largely secular, political purposes. Once again, God reached out to meet humanity where it was in a way it could understand in order to turn us back to himself again. Enter the Word made flesh – Jesus.

Since the topic at hand is whether God demanded the sacrifice of his son to provide for the forgiveness of our sins, I’m going to skip straight to the death of Jesus here. The first thing we must understand about the death of Jesus is who it originated with. The reality is that throughout Jesus’ ministry there were people who wanted him dead. There are quite a few places in the gospels where Jesus slipped out of town in order to escape those who would kill him. Once again, the fact remains that it was human desire which sought the death of Jesus and not the demands of God. In fact, there was nothing about the execution of Jesus which conformed to the rules of God. Regular rules for trial were ignored. Jesus wasn’t subjected to the scriptural means of death for one who blasphemed – that being stoning. Even the usual proscription against killing during the Passover feast was ignored. And it wasn’t the fury of God which propelled events forward; it was the fury of men which did that.  This was an event of human motivations and means from start to finish.

The claim that the crucifixion of Jesus was a sacrifice demanded by God, ignores the bald, ugly reality of what actually happened. The religious leaders, caring nothing for what God cares for – our hearts and need for redemption – had turned Jesus over to the powers of this world. The people in demanding his execution and the release of Barabbas committed an act of gross betrayal against Jesus who had never harmed anyone and healed many. It was the worst of human nature on display. The soldiers mocked Jesus, mocked his royalty, mocked the miraculous power he had demonstrated purely in service to needy humanity. The means of his death was a rather extreme example of man’s capacity for cruelty towards fellow man. It was carried out by those just doing their jobs – the banality of evil at work 2000 years before we had a term for it. While Jesus suffered on the cross, we see further examples of the difference between God’s ways and mankind’s ways. Before he is even dead, the soldiers amuse themselves with a bit of vice, gambling for his clothes. When he asks for some small comfort – a drink – he is met with yet another example of how people will treat those suffering and offered a dose of vinegar which will not alleviate his suffering but simply makes it worse. All in all, rather than an example of a sacrifice demanded by God, the death of Jesus is a fantastic display of the worst behaviors and traits that humans can muster up. There was nothing about it that reflected God’s desire or demands. This was the work of human beings through and through.

And yet . . . God takes this ugly, evil display of cruelty, vice, power, betrayal, self-interest and arrogance and does what he is wont to do with the things we humans come up with. He uses it to turn us towards himself. It’s as if he says, “are you done now? Are you satisfied? Have you vented your fury and poured out your sinfulness on me to your satisfaction? Fine. Then it is done. You poured out your sin on me and my son. And now, I have redeemed even the worst that you can do. He is risen. He is Lord of Lords and King of Kings now. You sin has no power. It has no power to defeat me and it has no power to separate us any longer. Turn away from it and seek after me.”

This claim that God reacts to this lurid display of human cruelty and sin by declaring it as the means by which we are reconciled to him may seem to be a stretch, but tomorrow I’ll use the story of the prodigal son to explain why this reaction is exactly the way that God behaves with us. I would do it today, but this post is already way too long. But I do have it written already, so if you aren’t already subscribed, you should go do that and it will be delivered into your inbox tomorrow. I know you’ll be waiting with baited breath for its arrival! J

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27 thoughts on “Did God Really Demand the Death of His Son as a Sacrifice for Sin?

  1. Interesting take. However, this all ignores the overriding issue of whether events in the Bible happened exactly the way they were written. After all, God’s intervention in the affairs of man is a direct violation of the universal law of “free will”. If you’re seriously interested in this subject, you might want to check out what historians and theologians are pouring over (writings such as the Sumerian Creation Tablets, The Egyptian Book of the Dead, the Book of Enoch and the Nag Nammadi Library).

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    • Thanks for the comment!
      In my research and thinking, I prefer to work from the most restrictive understanding of things – that what happened has been reported pretty straight-forwardly. I have of course read up on the arguments against taking the accounts of events at face value. However, I have never found any real benefit or learned anything enlightening from such arguments. I prefer to take a “assuming that this is the way things are, what understandings and explanations would make sense?” For me it’s been a very productive approach, so I’ve pretty much decided to stick with it.
      I think that the idea of free will is often over-stated. For example, we have a lot of evidence that things which have moral components are heavily influenced by genetics, brain structures, hormones and other biological processes which we have no real control over. Does this interfere with free will? And interacting with something always changes its course, So would our interactions with each other and our environment constitute an interference with free will? I would argue that re God, his influence and interactions may infringe on the most stringent ideas about free will, but an understanding of free will which holds such influence and interaction to be violate free will is unrealistic. Particularly in light of all the other things which influence us and all the other interactions we have.

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    • Thanks!
      I know that it seems to go against a lot of established theology, but I’ve thought it through a lot and I really think it holds up. I’ll get into it further re some of the scripture verses that are pertinent to the discussion tomorrow. But like I said, I think it does hold up both scripturally and it makes sense in reference to a God of love. :)

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  2. This view helps make more sense of the account of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane and his plea to the Father that this cup to pass from him. In my opinion the only other explanation of that account in the Garden that makes sense is Willard’s view that Jesus is actually praying that he not give into Satan’s temptation to stop him from making it to the cross. That is, that the cross was Jesus’ goal. I have documented Willard’s account at http://thelocution.blogspot.com/2012/04/good-friday.html. As it turns out, Willard’s view on the garden incident makes sense with both your take and the more conventional take on the sacrifice of Jesus.

    Excellent article, thanks for sharing.

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    • Thanks for the comment!
      I think I prefer NT Wright’s idea that Jesus knew what he was setting himself up for when he put on his street theater coming in on a donkey with palms and praise and then making a huge scene at the temple. He wrote his death warrant then. I don’t have a problem with the idea of a fearful Jesus in the garden. He was human as much as divine and he clearly asks the Father to allow the cup or the hour to pass from him if possible. If he had not experienced great fear at what he knew was coming, it would diminish the claim in Hebrews 4:15 that he shared in all our weakness.
      I’ve been meaning to write a post about it, but I think that there’s a tendency to underplay the humanity of Jesus in favor of Jesus as super-human. And part of that is this idea that Jesus knew exactly what he was doing and why. None of us really know what our mission in life is or exactly what roads we ought to take. We have to rely on doing our best, using discernment and trusting that God will guide us. It would have been no different for Jesus. And if he didn’t sometimes doubt himself – am I crazy? Does God really want me to do and say “x”? – again, it would diminish the claim that he shared in all our human weaknesses.

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  3. Good, I didn’t know anyone else was reading through NT Wright’s phone books!

    You left out the 2nd animal sacrifice: when Noah grounded, let most of the animals go, and set up an altar, whereupon God takes a good snift, & says “I don’t think I’ll drown these people after all. Nobody else knows how to fix a kosher holocaust like they do!” [Much like the Babylonian gods do in the original version!]

    Much of the reason for sacrifices, as anthropologists describe it– is so slaughtering an animal for food doesn’t become a casual, routine affair. [as large busy Temples would tend to make it, after awhile.]

    A better angle on the ‘atonement’ thing would be: ~God didn’t need a sacrifice to know sHe didn’t hate people– but people did.

    Basically, we had the best, most religious people of their day– and confronted with a person who thought like God, they were terrified enough to want him killed. And rather than call in a ten-legions-of-angels airstrike, God lets them do it. Then brings the man back as a sign, “This guy was telling you what you need to know!” (But not showing him to those individuals who’d had him killed. “Even if someone were to return from the dead,” they wouldn’t believe him.” Maybe after a few more kalpas…)

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  4. dear Rebecca, you have put into words exactly my thoughts and feelings about the suffering and death of our beloved Jesus, or, if you prefer so, Michael. There is no use in discussing about theological and historical research if you KNOW the truth, because it feels right. Trying to convince other people, which you do not, would only minimize your credibility. There is no need for theoretical evidence, no need for followers or get approval if you are convinced yourself… However, it is very nice to get my own view confirmed by someone from across the ocean! Thanks for sharing!

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  5. Pingback: The Sacrifice of Jesus and the Prodigal Son « The Upside Down World

  6. Hej Rebecca

    It is a brilliant topic which I am also writing on a long ongoing series in my blog, as a go through what Christians from A.D. 30-2012 think of the death of Christ.

    I think,Rebecca, Hebrews 9: 22b: “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” and Hebrews 10:4 “[it was] impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.”(ESV) opened a door for me to explore this blood of Jesus, God holiness, love and justice again.

    The notion of God so loved the fallen world (John 3:16) that He did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all (Rom. 8:32), a demonstration of His own love for us while we were still sinners (Rom. 5:8), that Christ died for us, so that by the grace of God, Jesus suffered and tasted death for everyone (Heb. 2:9) thus we might live through him (1 John 4:9) since Jesus’ atoning sacrifice (1 John 4:10) has freed us from our sins by his blood (Rev. 1:5) is hard teaching to understand given our modern worldview.

    But I think N.T. Wright was very right contending: “Jesus has announced God’s imminent judgment on his rebel people, a judgment that would consist of devastation at the hands of Rome. He then goes ahead of his people to take precisely that judgment, literally, physically and historically upon himself, ‘ Not only in theological truth, but in historic fact, the one bore the sins of the many’ This is both penal and substitutionary, but it is far bigger and less open to objection than some other expressions of that theory”. (Wright 2011: 181)

    Going through the prodigal sons(both were lost, but one found) I also see a payment for the return of the young prodigal son.Restoration of the young son costed the big brother’s 3/4 part of inheritance (I answered this in my blog series). Christ is our true big brother, unlike the one in the story, Christ came down searching for us, paying everything so we can come home. He said “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”(Matt 20:28)

    As the father in the story, God did not love and welcome us home because Jesus died for us, Jesus died for us because God already loved us and welcomed us home before time began(Ephe. 1:3-11)

    I will dance with your thoughts Rebecca and I pray that God will open our eyes to see how beautiful He even in hard passages and doctrines like atonement.

    Your brother in Christ,

    Prayson

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    • Huh – I’m re-reading The Challenge of Jesus right now! And I do agree in large part with attonement theology. I think that my main point and quibble is that blood sacrifice wasn’t a requirement for God – it was a requirement for us. I agree with substitutionary theology with the caveat that it was our needs, our psychology and our way of relating with God which drives it. God’s desire is to be in restorative relationship with us. Whatever stands in the way – including our own guilt, sin and errant ideas – must be removed. By allowing his son to be given up to our evil ways, God was removing those barriers for us. It was our need and not some need on his part for sacrifice that drove the manner in which this was accomplished. At least, that’s my understanding of it. I guess my concern is less with the effect of the death and ressurection of Jesus and more with the character of the God we serve. If that all makes sense.

      I have wondered about Christ as the older brother in the prodigal son. The issue with this, however, was that the older brother was angry with his father over his acceptance of the younger back. Jesus played a willing part in the family drama going on. Lately I’ve been wondering if the older brother doesn’t represent other spiritual children of God – like literally spiritual. Angels or even the enemy and the like. It’s just an idea. :)

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      • Hello Rebecca,

        I have being thinking of your articles ever since I read them. Thank you so much for your writings. You have a talent to see things in different angle.

        The blood sacrifice in Old Testament was a symbolic “means by which the guilt-punishment chain produced by violation of God’s will is broken, as well as the resulting state of reconciliation (‘at-onement’) with God.” (Achtemeier et al. 1985: 80)

        I think we err if we deny that blood sacrifice is something which originated with the Hebrew God. Because Hebrews 8:5 states “They[sacrifical and offering system] serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.””(I will recommend reading of Leviticus 12-16, Isaiah 52-53 and Hebrews 8-9)

        Atonement is the demonstration of the righteousness and holiness God as He justified all, without distinction, through the redemption work of Christ Jesus, whom God put forth as propitiation by His blood. (Rom. 3:22-24)

        The Apostle Paul argued that, “[t]his was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”(Rom. 3:25-26 ESV)

        Thus we err again understanding it as a way “people needed assurances that they are acceptable, forgiven and in right relationship with their God” since it is the offended part that demands reconciliation and does it. ”
        I[God], I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” Isaiah tells us in 43:25, “Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and atone for our sins, for your name’s sake!” says Psalmist in 79:9, “Though our iniquities testify against us, act, O Lord, for your name’s sake; for our backslidings are many; we have sinned against you.” says Jeremiah in 14:7.

        “Your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake.”(1 John 2:12) and not our name sake, or our pyschological persective. I am moved, Rebecca, to conclude that God did really demand the life and death of His Son to passover our sins and give us what is of Christ, holiness and righteous as ours. Isaiah 53:10a puts it this way ” it was the will of the Lord to crush him; ” bearing the justice which was rightly yours and mine.(there was no other way Rebecca, as I read Jesus prayer at Gethsemane , than that Jesus drinking the cup of wrath Mark 14:32-41)

        I am open and exploring your angle Rebecca as I pray for the Holy Spirit to open our eyes to see the Holy Love, Holy Mercy, Holy Justice, Holy Wrath, Holy Righteousness, Holy Holy Holy our God who so loved us, even though we were unworthy and hostile to Him, that He gave His Son to live and lay down His life for you and I.

        Your brother in Christ,
        Prayson

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    • I kept meaning to get back to your response, but I’ve been rather scattered lately. I think that the key can be seen in that verse:

      “I [God], I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” When God says he’s blotting out our transgressions for his own sake, what does he mean? I believe that this refers back to his primary concern which is to be in relationship with us. He desires relationship with us and so while he could choose to hold our transgressions against us, her forgives them. The problem he faces is two-fold, however. How to discourage sin and how to encourage us to come closer. Sin needs to be discouraged due to the harm that it does to ourselves, each other and our openess to relationship with God. I have come to believe that most sin has its roots in trauma and a desire to avoid suffering. Healing is the answer to that, so forgiveness which is closely tied to healing is part of how sin is diminished. The real issue is always God’s desire for relationship with us – for our sake and his.

      As to the specifics of sacrifice, sacrifice IS indeed required in order to bring about this union with God. However, that sacrifice is ultimately a sacrifice of self and of anything that keeps us from God. Animal sacrifice was purely symbolic – God has no need of blood or animals – but it was one that people already used and whose meaning was understood. It had meaning because of that and because it required people to forgo food or money to perform. And became spiritual by using those as a symbolic means of offering up our hearts and sins. But it was never about animals or blood. With the death of Jesus, the real locus of sacrifice moved to where it mattered – anything that held the place in our hearts that God ought to occupy. Now we are asked to offer up our bodies – our very being – to God. Which is what God has sought all along. Getting rid of animal sacrifice was actually a benefit to us as no longer is the sacrifice outside of ourselves.

      I guess that what I am saying is that ultimately, none of it is about God’s need to see us sacrifice or meet his demands. To the extent that any of this originates with God, it is simply that as our creator and the one whose image we bear, he wants to see us restored, We are supposed to be a reflection of him and while we are failing at that, the world is missing a key component – walking, talking, acting displays of God on this earth. When God says that for his sake he forgives us, this is what his sake is – to have his creation and his own images set right. It’s about fixing what is wrong. The way to get there is through sacrifice, yes. But not because it’s what God needs and demands. Rather because it’s the medicine by which we get better.

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  7. Hi Rebecca, my name is Jim Chen. Thanks for reading my blog! I agree with your title. I will read more carefully this Sunday perhaps when my four year old is not jumping around behind me, but I’ve always had the idea that GOD has plans and this plan of salvation are the 7 seals (scroll) in Revelation. Did you notice that the Lamb (Christ) was bloody before He took it, so He has been crucified over and over again. GOD calls, and we answer (volunteer – for ex. Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah – “Who will go?”). The idea that GOD sacrificed his Son unwillingly and cruelly makes for bad theology. I mean that if believers believe that, they may unknowingly be justifiably cruel themselves. These sacrifices are really missions. And after a mission, GOD always refreshes, rewards, and promotes. That’s what I think. I hope that makes sense,

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    • I like what you say about missions. I’ve often thought of Jesus and all of our lives in a similar way – there’s a mission to be completed. I think that the specific how’s are left up to us, but the core thrust surrounds some work that needs to be done.

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  9. Have you read “Healing the Gospel: A Radical Vision for Grace, Justice, and the Cross” by Derek Flood? He argues that penal-substitution is unscriptural and we are better served by seeing the atonement as a victory of Christ over the powers of sin and death (the Christus Victor model).

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    • It’s funny – I get asked all the time if I’ve read this person or that person because they say something similar and the answer pretty much always is no. I just don’t have money to buy books, so at best I read reviews of books on the internet – which is pretty much the same thing, right?

      My understanding is that the Christus Victor model is the teaching of the Eastern Orthodox church as well. I haven’t studied Eastern Orthodox theology myself, but my experience is that very often I will get some idea worked out myself and then discover that it’s pretty well in line with Eastern Orthodox teachings. I don’t have any desire to be Eastern Orthodox myself, but perhaps we Protestants could save ourselves a lot of trouble by just reading EO theology. They seem to have done a pretty good job of hanging onto the theology of the early church.

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  10. So… he basically cut himself in front of the audience and yelled: “See what I do to myself?! Y’all can’t touch me!”? Doesn’t really make it better :)

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  11. I am just now reading this in June, 2013 because while reading Hebrews this morning, my attention was drawn to Christ being a sacrificial lamb. I have a friend who denies that God could ever sacrifice His son, and then scripture says He did. Then I googled “sacrifice” and ended up reading about the Aztec civilization sacrificing children to attain to the rising of the sun, each morning. Amazing! Further reading led me to your site and your essay about this subject. IT IS AN EXCELLENT RESPONSE, Rebecca. It is simply so right. Men are the problem , not God. Man’s heart is so deceitful, that it will trick you and everyone else , every time. Thanks !

    Jim Rap / Benson, NC

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  12. I am just finding this article as I am teaching on Guilt vs Condemnation, vs Conviction soon and while it is an interesting conclusion, I think you are treading on very dangerous grounds. This thought tends to focus largely if not exclusively on a single characteristic of God … that God is Love. And while it is true that God is love and that is his character, we also need not forget that God is also (among other things) Holy, Righteous, Merciful and Sovereign. But also, an often overlooked character trait of God, is that God is Wrath. (Romans 1:18-32). And Wrath is just as much a character trait of God as Love, not one over the other. God is Love. God is Mercy. God is Holy. God is Wrath. We dare not lose sight of this lest it taint our interpretations.

    I know you say you don’t read much (“I just don’t have money to buy books, so at best I read reviews of books on the internet – which is pretty much the same thing, right?”), but your view more or less lines up with what Rob Bell calls a “toxic” form of substitutionary atonement in his book “Love Wins”. And among other things can lead to a Universalist view of salvation where Jesus is hardly needed and all good people go to heaven. In your view, you down play the guilt and punishment aspects of sin and seem rather to focus on sin as a form of victimhood. Here is a free read that sheds some light: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/aprilweb-only/christusvicarious.html?start=1

    My biggest concern when reading your work, is that very thing. A shift in thinking toward relativism. A drift that eventually leads to the “theological” idea that the truths of the bible are not absolute, but rather, the meaning of biblical truths is to be reinterpreted by each successive generation so that what a truth meant to one generation may not be what it means in the next. And this is indeed a very dangerous slope.

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  13. Rebecca,

    I Googled my way to this page while exploring the practices of animal sacrifices and blood sacrifices and sacrifices to different gods in history.

    I had high hopes for it when I saw that you believe that such sacrifices are purely man-made and that they were never actually ordered by God. I agree completely with that idea. I don’t think some super intelligent god would be involved in such bloody rituals.

    So I thought you would believe as I do, that the ancient Jewish priesthood put words into God’s mouth, claiming that he wanted them to do those things, and they were just following his orders. But you didn’t go there…

    Instead, you seem to be claiming that God did indeed tell the ancient Jewish priesthood to perform those sacrifices, and that really surprised me. A reading of Leviticus is full of orders from the LORD about sacrifices, so I’m assuming you think God actually told Moses to do those things? It doesn’t make sense…

    Have you ever considered the idea that the priesthood was taking advantage of people already doing those things, and they decided to make a living off of it for their own benefit? They could live off of the animal meat and other things people were sacrificing to the gods at the time. If you look at Leviticus, it lists all kinds of “the best” things that the priests told people that God wanted…

    But alas, I feel that you actually trust the stories in the Old Testament which claim that God actually told the priesthood, instead of it being “upside down” like you like to think, and that it was the priesthood putting words into God’s mouth.

    Even Jesus had a beef with the Jewish priesthood and called them vipers and sons of the devil and liars, and that’s one of the reasons they wanted to kill him. He was exposing them and their sacrifices for what they were — a way to get people, no matter how poor they might be, to bring them stuff and pretend to forgive their sins.

    That’s a skeptical view of the Jewish priesthood, and one I believe is true, but I doubt you will agree with me. Oh well…

    Anyway, I really enjoyed reading your page, and am glad I ran across it!

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  14. I loved reading your article and it does make a lot of sense. However, Isa 53:10 says, But the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; If he would render himself as a guilt offering..(NAS)

    So, I think that the theological stand point that is argued against in your article is actually derived from the Word of God. This has been a point of inner controversy to me as well?? Why would a loving God send His Son to be beaten to a pulp in order to satisfy justice for the sins of humanity, if the sinner will just believe in Jesus? That would be like punishing the good kid in the class in front of everyone to justify the rest of the bad kids who acted up in class and then telling them, if they only believe that the good kid got punished for their misbehavior; their deeds would be forgiven?
    Believe me when I tell you how I have struggled with this as a Christian..

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  15. Thank you, Rebecca! I love your deep insights and thoughtful considerations that you share with others. You truly think outside the box, but this is what innovates the rest of us to get out of the boxes that we sometimes become prisoners of inside. Jeff

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  16. Thank you, Rebecca! I l was enjoying as i was going through your article but what i love about Christian God who is Jesus the son of the living God who was there in the beginning with the father,who is the word that became flesh is he is so practical and when ever hi name i called he comes down and im one who have and still witnessing his power.i will continue about God sacrificing himself for the sins of the world

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