Salvation – It’s Not What You’ve Been Taught VIDEO

Is salvation really about avoiding hell when you die? Yes, that’s the popular teaching we’ve all heard, but in this video I explain why this is a misunderstanding and what the truth of salvation actually is. (Hint – it’s better than you’ve been told!) Enjoy!

Here’s the link for those of you reading via email. See – I do catch on eventually! 😉

Why the Cross Pleased God

So, I got a comment today on my engagingly titled post “Did God Really Demand the Death of His Son as a Sacrifice for Sin?” I was going to answer it in a comment, but I realized that most of y’all would never see it there. And sometimes the best conversations take place in the comments section. Especially when there’s a question from someone who thinks I’m wrong.

My blog posts purposely distill a lot of background information into a hopefully interesting, informative and sometimes challenging post. So I can’t cover everything, but I promise that if you have a question, I have an answer. It may not always be the right answer. But I do have an answer. I have been called Hermoine Granger more than a few times over the years. (I am very grateful to the Harry Potter books for giving us a nicer way to call someone a bossy know-it-all, btw.)

So here’s the comment:

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..

For those following along at home, Isaiah 10:53 says:

But the LORD was pleased
            To crush Him, putting Him to grief;
            If He would render Himself as a guilt offering

We can easily read this as saying that God was pleased to allow these things to happen because through the work of the cross, his children (us) would be returned to him. Continue reading

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

As you are perhaps aware, today is Good Friday, and as I said yesterday, I’m more interested in looking to Easter Sunday than in thinking too deeply about the crucifixion this year. But I thought this would be a good time to share my take on the why’s of the cross. Why did Jesus die? Why did that result in the forgiveness of sins? etc. . . 

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. Continue reading

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: Continue reading

What is salvation anyways?

Does salvation really mean going to heaven rather than hell after you die? A lot of Christians believe that. But one of the first things I noticed when I started reading scripture many years ago was that this notion is almost completely absent from the bible. As widely accepted as “salvation means being saved from hell” is, one would expect that there would be a verse – probably a lot of verses – that actually said that. But there’s not even one!

The strange thing about the use of the word salvation in scriptures is that it is used as if its meaning were understood. Like when we say “turn left” we know exactly what “turn left” means. But all that salvation really means is “saved”. From what? Over time, I’ve come to embrace the understanding of salvation that was most common among the ancient church fathers and which is still the teaching of Eastern Orthodox theology: theosis. Continue reading