Posted by: NotAScientist | September 17, 2008

What sacrifice?

There are recurring themes that run through the conversation whenever I talk to a Christian. This is more obvious when the conversation is with an evangelical, or any type of Christian who has got it into their head to try and convert me.

One theme that I’ve seen over and over is “Jesus made a sacrifice and died for your sins, so you need to worship him.” Or something along those lines. Not surprisingly, I have a problem with that particular line of reasoning…

What sacrifice?

Because when I look at the Biblical story of Jesus dying and resurrecting I see many things, but a sacrifice is not one of them.

Now what, precisely, does the Bible say happened? Well, Jesus was nailed to a cross, was tortured for a certain amount of time and then died. He was placed in a tomb, and three days later he rose from the dead. He hung around with his old friends for a bit, and then went to heaven where he is the Prince of the Universe and sits on the right hand of god. (Or is god. I never seem to get that straight.)

So what in there is supposed to be the sacrifice? A sacrifice, unless I’m sorely mistaken, implies losing something. What, exactly, is Jesus supposed to have lost?

On the contrary, he seems to have done nothing but gained from the arrangement. Assuming the story is accurate, then Jesus made the deal of a lifetime.

Put yourself in his shoes. You’re GOD…or God’s son, at any rate…and you KNOW it. There’s no question, there’s no bet being placed, you know for a fact that you are god.

What is death to a god?

Nothing, I should think. In fact, the end of the story confirms that. Jesus isn’t sent to Hell for eternity to pay for the sins of humanity. He doesn’t die and then stay dead. He dies and is dead for three days (Actually 36 hours, but why quibble?) and then returns to heaven where he is God for all eternity.

I’d take that deal. And it doesn’t seem in the least bit sacrificial to me.

But maybe, to some people, being god is just a pain in the butt?



  1. Hello morsec0de.

    You don’t know me, but I thought I would pop in and weigh in on your post.

    For some reason, instead of going straight to my blog I thought I would click on the Christianity link to see what lied out there in wordpress world on the topic. And poof I stumbled onto your site.

    Rather than get into an intellectual battle regarding the legitamacy of Jesus or what his ‘sacrifice’ means to millions of suffering people throughout the world, I just wanted to offer my perspective.

    I was once an athiest and now I am a Christian–its a long story. However, what isn’t so complicated to explain is the following:

    What was once so dark in my life has been replaced by joyous light. Anger replaced by love. Embrace love morsec0de and then maybe you will get a glimpse of what amazing freedom lies in the ‘sacrifice’ of Jesus.

    And to answer your question about what exactly was Jesus supposed to have lost. I believe the correct answer would be blood, flesh and all manner of comfort. Do you really think that is nothing to lose?

    Feel free to drop by the blog I co-authored as well:

    Much love,

  2. Hi Morsec0de

    Yes it’s true that Jesus rose from the dead and rules as Lord. Things have turned out good for him. But that doesn’t mean there was no sacrifice. There’s a couple of reasons

    1. Ruling as Lord and God wasn’t something he got out of ‘the deal’. He ruled as Lord and God before becoming a man and dying and rising. Dying was not something he had to go through for this. Instead it was what he went through for our sakes – the death he died was the death we deserved for lives of not treating God as God. The benefit for Jesus was a selfless one – that we would be saved from death to be with him.

    2. ‘What is death to a god?

    Nothing, I should think.’

    Actually, a lot. Your argument that Jesus didn’t spend eternity in hell isn’t quite accurate – Whatever hell is like in the details, all it really is is being under the judgement of God. And on the cross Jesus didn’t only die what has been referred to as the most painful and shameful way a person has ever conceived to kill another person. He bore the full judgement of God that we all would bear in an eternity of hell. And remember that Jesus was God, but he had also become a man. As a man, death was to him what it is to any person. As the holy God, death & judgement and bearing the guilt of humanity was not nothing but the most awful and alien thing.

  3. brish:

    I’m glad that being a Christian has made you happier. And I sincerely mean that.

    That doesn’t make your belief any more true, however.

    “I believe the correct answer would be blood, flesh and all manner of comfort. Do you really think that is nothing to lose?”

    If I’m an omnipotent god, then yes, that is nothing to lose.

    If you have the ability to repeat something over and over as many times as you want and suffer no injury to yourself (meaning he’s still omnipotent when he’s done), then you’ve lost nothing and there’s no sacrifice.


    “the death he died was the death we deserved for lives of not treating God as God. The benefit for Jesus was a selfless one – that we would be saved from death to be with him.”

    And what does that tell you if his ‘death’ is merely a show. According to the story Jesus continues to exist, and may even have more power after ‘dying’. That doesn’t sound like a death to me. That sounds like a great idea, and I’d do the same.

    “what has been referred to as the most painful and shameful way a person has ever conceived to kill another person.”

    Forgive me for being nitpicky, but I have a serious problem with this. As a fan of Roman history, the account given of Jesus’ death is not even bad for crucifixions, let alone death in general. I would imagine slow death from cancer would be worse than a few hours on a cross. But speaking just of crucifixions, the Romans would keep some people up there for days, even weeks, torturing them before finally killing them. Jesus was there for a few hours at most. Not a pleasant time, surely, but not the “most painful”.

    “As a man, death was to him what it is to any person. As the holy God, death & judgement and bearing the guilt of humanity was not nothing but the most awful and alien thing.”

    Except he’s supposedly omnipotent. If I’m omnipotent, and have a human body to boot, and it dies, that should be less than clipping a toenail. This is definitional with ‘omnipotence’. All powerful.

    Unless you argue that your god is not all powerful. In which case, how is he god?

  4. Firstly, can I just say I appreciate these discussions. When I studied at university, everyone was into pluralism, and any questioning of someone’s beliefs labeled you a bigot.

    All I can say this early in the morning before my coffee, after a late night, is that the flaw in your argument isn’t that there’s something lacking in your logic, but that in fact you are holding a human concept of what it must mean to be an all powerful God, without openly understanding that the Bible has a radical concept of God that isn’t answerable to your logic.
    I’m not at that point assuming you haven’t read the Bible or thought about it. Only that it appears that in doing so you’ve held some logic assumptions that you require God to fit into in order to be believable. And, because he’s an all powerful God, and greater than your mind, he doesn’t.

    I look forward to more discussion.

  5. Didn’t you do the same thing in YOUR first comment?

  6. it is a very curious thing, that jesus didn’t remain in hell. and if he died to cover all sin, then what acceptance is there to be had? isn’t it necessarily true that if the perfect innocent died for our sake, even taking away the discussion of hell, wouldn’t that have made carnal death impossible? i thought if you forgave someone, it was unconditional, correct?
    same with paying, say an electric bill. your parent’s pay for it, you can’t reverse that. in addition to paying it, they wouldn’t expect you to pay it off. what is so fundamentally different in this case?
    The scapegoat theory, as i put it, of justice relies on the fact that once punishment is handed down (jesus died on the cross) the whole situation is swept under the rug and disregarded. Morsec0de, i would say his early death would be attributed to extreme mental and spiritual stress, if you would. the clarity that god sees evil, would perhaps not unlike one’s mind degenerating from gang green. just a thought.

  7. Wow. That had never, ever occurred to me (but so do lots of things). That really is some kind of perspective you’ve got there.

    And P.S. I liked your post on revromansky’s blog.

    “Spider-man loves you.”

    I love it. I think it might be a thing, y’know?

  8. hey m0rsecode,
    You make an interesting point but I think its flawed, God could have stayed in heaven, Never come down and still have been completely just and righteous, The just punishment for our sins was OUR death. God comes down as a human which is in an of it self is a sacrifice, shared limitations that we as humans have such as temptations and physical limitations, and then underwent a horrifically brutal trial and death
    The following is an expert of an article which was written by a Medical Doctor by the name of Dr. Keith Maxwell who describes the medical agony of the situation very well

    “The next thing I want to talk about is a phenomenon called hemathidrosis. Hemathidrosis is a very rare medical phenomenon that’s been reported about twelve to fourteen times in world medical literature and is only seen in people who are under tremendous stress and agony. In hemathidrosis, a person actually exudes blood from every sweat gland in their body. Each sweat gland has a small capillary that surrounds it, and in hemathidrosis, that small capillary ruptures. As it bursts, a person actually bleeds into their sweat glands. Instead of perspiring sweat, if you will, they actually perspire blood. The Bible gives an excellent description of this phenomenon, saying that the Lord’s sweat became as great drops of blood. Indeed, every pore of Jesus’ body oozed and drained blood.

    Now, I believe that Christ was a man just as much as any one of us. But at the same time, I believe that Christ was God and knew the terrible fate that lay ahead of him. He knew the job he had come to this earth to do, the mission he had to fulfil, and I believe the man part of Christ dreaded this agonising death and torture that lay a few hours ahead of him just as much as anyone of us would. We know he prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, saying ‘Father, if it be your will, let this cup pass from me.’ But he submitted his will to his Father’s. There in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was under about as much anxiety and physical stress from an emotional standpoint that a human could experience, knowing that in a few hours he would be delivered into one of the most agonising and brutal deaths ever recorded in history.

    Why didn’t the Lord bleed to death if he bled out of every sweat gland in his body? If you’ve been to Israel, as I have, you know that this time of year you have warm days and cool nights. It was this cool night air that probably caused the Lord’s damp skin, covered with sweat and blood, to chill, causing the capillaries to constrict and stop the bleeding. This same chilling in the cold night air has kept many a drunk and hoodlum who I’ve seen shot or stabbed and who’s then lain in a ditch all night, from dying. It causes the blood vessels to constrict and causes the blood loss to be minimal. But by the time Jesus was taken by the soldiers from the garden of Gethsemane, he probably had a mixture of sweat and blood over his entire body surface. I can imagine this was some sight to behold.

    Let’s talk about the scourging. Scourging was such a horrible torture that Roman citizens were forbade to be scourged – only slaves and traders could be scourged. It was one of the worst punishments the Romans had to inflict on a human body. Typically, the victim was stripped completely naked and tied by his wrists to a post or wall with his back exposed. He was then whipped from the back of his arms, down his shoulders and back, across his bare buttocks, down the back of his legs and calves, all the way down to his heels by two Roman legionnaires, one on either side, alternating blows.

    The historical accounts tell us that the traditional scourging consisted of thirty-nine lashes. If you can, imagine two large, strong, burly Roman legionnaires (someone that we would equate to say, a pro football player today) with a wooden handled whip about eighteen inches long that had nine leather thongs, something akin to what we would call a cat-o-nine tails. The n ine leather thongs were about six to seven feet long, and at the end of each thong was some lead shod, like a sinker you’d use to go fishing. Attached to the lead shod were pieces of sheep and cattle bone. The idea of those small pieces of bone was that, as the Roman legionnaire would beat his victim, snapping his wrist would cause the weight of the metal shod to dig into the back, while the sheep/cattle bone cut the skin.

    As the sheep/cattle bone lacerated the skin and actually dug in under the surface of the skin, the skilled and trained legionnaire could whip his wrist and literally lift small shards of skeletal muscle out through the skin, leaving small ribbons of muscle, about two inches long, hanging through the skin.”

    “When I was working on this, I looked at in the cadaver lab and did some dissection, trying to figure out what one blow like this would mean to you and me. As best I could tell, and from some of the information I was able to gather from the Shroud of Turin exhibit, one lash with this whip – one thong – would make a cut about two inches long and about three quarters to an inch deep. To put that into medical terms, that’s a cut that takes about twenty stitches to close. So with one lash, one swing of the whip, a total of nine lacerations could be inflicted on the victim, each laceration two inches long and three quarters to one inch deep.

    With one blow, one Roman legionnaire could inflict enough wounds to take one hundred eighty stitches to close. If you multiply that times thirty-nine, those two Roman legionnaires inflicted enough lacerations to take about 2,000 stitches to close. I’ve seen people who’ve gone through the windshield of a car or wrecked a motorcycle into a barbed wire fence, and I’ve still never seen anyone that tattered up in any of my medical experience. This gives you an idea of the amount of the physical trauma that was inflicted upon Jesus just from the scourging.

    Again you’d ask why Jesus didn’t bleed to death. And again, you have to remember that this was done in the cold night air, the very thing that caused his blood vessels and capillaries to constrict and actually cause the blood loss from this beating to be minimal.

    As mentioned, the idea of the lead weight was to lift the skeletal muscle out. Imagine having a cut on your skin with an inch of muscle pulled out through the cut, exposed to the night air. We see this sometimes in stab wounds or when people are stabbed with sharp objects like sticks and the muscles are pulled back through the skin. The purpose this served in the scourging was, that as the victim hung on the cross in the heat of the day, birds could light on him and actually peck and pull at these pieces of muscle, just like a robin trying to pull a worm out of the ground.

    Frequently, how long a person actually survived on the cross during the crucifixion was determined by how severely he was scourged. Sometimes they would beat a man nearly to death before they put him on the cross and he would only live a few hours. Most of the time, though, the scourging was intended for public humiliation and embarrassment, because it was such an inhumane method of t orture.
    Another thing you may not have considered….TV. has done a real injustice to trauma, depicting men in bar room fights who take blows to the face or head and jump up and beat up three or four men. I can tell you that it’s really not that way in real life. If I took any one of the men here, tied his hands behind him and then let any other man of average size and build beat him in the face with his fists open and closed, I cannot begin to tell you the amount of trauma this would inflict on him.

    We know that Jesus was beaten in the face and head as he was mocked. I can assure you with all confidence that by the time the Lord was crucified after his beatings, it’s almost certain that both of his eyes were swollen shut and no doubt his nose was pouring blood. I can also tell you that when people are struck in the mouth with a fist, the first thing that happens is that the lower teeth come right through the lip. I’ve taken care of many people in the emergency room who’ve come in beaten up in fights with their teeth sticking through their lips, both upper and lower sides. If Jesus was tied and held and beaten in the face by these strong legionnaires, I don’t think there’s any doubt that his lips were tattered like paper and some of his teeth were knocked loose or maybe even knocked out. You might ask if his jaw bones were broken. Normally they would be, but not in Jesus’ case, and I’ll tell you why in a few minutes.

    During Jesus’ trials and humiliation we also know that a crown of thorns was plaited and placed on his head. In Christ’s case this was done to mock him as being King of the Jews. Some of you have been to Israel and have seen these thorns. They’re about an inch and one half to two inches long, and they’re as sharp as an ice pick. The custom was to take a small three or four foot long reed and slap the thorns on top of the head of the victim in order to drive the thorns into the skull. Those thorns laid upon someone’s head and then tapped down with a reed were hard enough to penetrate the outer table or the outer bone of the skull. Imagine the bleeding from three or four hundred puncture wounds in the scalp and around the forehead from these thorns.

    So, before Jesus’ crucifixion ever begins, his face has been beaten to a pulp, no doubt his eyes were swollen shut, his nose is bloodied, and I remind you that every pore in his skin has wept and oozed blood. Every visible surface on the good Lord Jesus, I am confident, was covered and caked with dried blood. And his back and his arms and his buttocks and the back of his legs were literally torn to shreds from the scourging. This was the shape Jesus was in before they ever gave him his cross to head out to Calvary.”

    “Now, one of the things I take issue with from agnostics who I’ve heard debate this: I do not think the Lord died from shock secondary to blood loss. There is nothing that Jesus said on the cross and nothing in the description of the crucifixion in any of the gospels that gives us any idea that Jesus was in shock before he died. How do I know that? When someone is shot or hit by a car and comes to the emergency room, they’re not sitting up talking to you. Their eyes are glassy, their colour is pale, their blood pressure is about sixty over nothing and they’re barely conscious, if conscious at all. Jesus never lost consciousness. There’s nothing in the description of his trials, his scourging or his time on the cross that tells us he was incoherent mentally or lost consciousness.

    Something else, physical stress – everything the Bible tells us about the life of Jesus is that he was a healthy, early thirties male who lived a rough life. He didn’t have a home, he probably slept outside, and he walked every where he went. He was probably, as we would say, as tough as a pine knot. I think Jesus was a hardy young man, very strong and stout physically, and that there was nothing weak or puny about him from a medical standpoint, prior to the crucifixion. As far as emotional stress, I don’t think Jesus had any kind of nervous breakdown. He was certainly under stress in the garden of Gethsemane, but nothing that he said on the cross gave any indication whatsoever that he was decompensating mentally, even during his gravest hours on the cross.

    I’ve also heard cardiac arrhythmia debated as a cause of Jesus’ death. When people go into cardiac arrhythmia, if it’s ventricular tachycardia or some of the other types of cardiac arrhythmia’s, one of the first things that happens is that the heart, even though it beats fast or funny, doesn’t function very well as a pump. When it doesn’t function well as a pump, your blood pressure drops, and you lose consciousness. Again, nowhere in the gospels do we have an account where Jesus ever lost consciousness until he died.
    Let’s talk about the cross for just a minute. We know from Corinthian and Roman history that the crosses were usually in two parts. First, the cross bar, that from very good historical accounts can be estimated to have a weight of 125 to 150 pounds, and to be about the size of a cross tie.

    Many of us have stacked or used cross ties at one time or another or have certainly seen what they look like on the railroad tracks. I want to remind you that this was a rough, unplanned, unfinished piece of wood with splinters and spikes and rough places in it, just like you would expect to see in a railroad cross tie. When the victim’s final trial and condemnation had taken place, to maximise the shame and suffering, the custom was to tie the cross bar to the victim, and have him carry it through the city from his point of condemnation to his point of execution. Part of the custom was that many times these people would be forced to stagger through the streets after being scourged and beaten, with the cross bar tied to their arms, and to add to the ultimate humiliation, the victim had to bear the cross naked. Imagine how humiliating that would be in this day and time, much less how humiliating and agonising it must have been for Jesus.

    The other part of the cross was an upright part, which is just like a post in the ground. Every major city at that time had an area outside their gates where they performed crucifixions. It was really not only a form of execution, but of entertainment as well. Many of the major cities had areas outside their walls where they would have three or four of these upright posts that were permanent fixtures. Someone condemned to crucifixion would bear the cross bar through the streets to the point of crucifixion, and once there, would be thrown onto the ground. Nails would then be driven through their hands into the cross bar. Then two forks, something similar to pitch forks, would be placed around each end of the cross bar, and they would be boosted up and the cross bar hung on top of the upright post. Once they were braced on the upright post, both feet would then be nailed to the foot piece.

    The nail wounds….The Romans practised crucifixion for hundreds of years, and they perfected the art of pain and suffering. How could a man have spikes driven through his hands and feet and not bleed to death? The Romans figured out that if they drove the spike through a man’s wrist right at the middle, they could avoid hitting any arteries or veins. If you go back and look at the Hebrew word for hand, it’s inclusive from the fingertips to about where your wristwatch crosses your wrist. So the hand didn’t necessarily mean the palm, and I can tell you, from having been a hand surgeon at one time and from dissecting cadavers to try to see if the muscle was strong enough to hold the body weight, it’s not. You can not drive a spike through a man’s palm and hang him by it without it pulling right out between his fingers. It is an accepted medical fact that the muscle in your palm is not strong enough to support your body weight.

    In order to be able to drive spikes through the Lord’s hands, they had to drive them through at the wrists. There, there’s a very strong ligament, called the traverse carpal ligament, that’s strong enough to support the body weight. The Romans figured out that if they came about where the crease in the wrist is and drove the spike through this area, they would miss the radial artery (the artery people cut when they try to kill themselves by cutting their wrist – right where the doctor takes your pulse), and they would also miss what we call the ulnar artery over on the little finger side. What they would do though, is drive the nail right through the biggest nerve in the hand, called the median nerve. If any of y’all have ever had carpal tunnel syndrome, you know how uncomfortable any inflammation or irritation to that median nerve can be.

    When the median nerve is transected, it gives about the sensation of having an electric cattle prod stuck to your w rist and a constant electrical shock going through your hand, and causes the fingers to claw. In essence, the Romans devised a way they could drive a spike through a man’s hand and not lose one drop of blood, while maximising the amount of pain and suffering that man would endure.”

    “The Romans did the same thing with the feet. They calculated where they could drive a spike through both a man’s feet and not cause blood loss that would cause the victim to bleed to death. The spike would have been placed between the first and second metatarsal bones, missing the dorals pedis artery. There again, they drove the spike through the feet with no blood loss. The spike misses the artery, but does hit the plantar nerves, thereby causing that same horrible shock sensation.

    Let’s talk now about Jesus hanging on the cross. When hanging by their arms, as a crucifixion victim’s body weight sags down, their diaphragm functions like a billows. As the diaphragm drops into the abdomen it pulls in air, so someone hanging on the cross had no difficulty whatsoever pulling air into their lungs. The tough part for people hanging on the cross was breathing out. In order for a crucifixion victim to exhale, they would have to pull up against the spikes with their hands, and push up against the spikes with their feet. I want to remind you – here’s Jesus hanging on the cross, probably naked in front of the whole city of Jerusalem. I’ve already described his back to you.

    Every time he took a breath, that tattered, lacerated and riddled back was drug and scraped across the splinters and the rough knobs and spikes protruding from the cross. Each time he breathed out, each time he uttered a word, he would have to pull up with his arms and push up with his legs. That’s why I want to remind you just how precious Jesus’ words from the cross were. That’s why he couldn’t say more than three or four words at a time. Because when you talk, you only talk as you breathe out, not as you breathe in. Every word Jesus spoke on the cross was spoken as he was pulling up against the nails and dragging his back across the cross.

    That’s why what the Lord tells us – what he spoke from the cross – is very precious to me, because I know what it cost him and how badly it hurt him. Every time I give this talk it reminds me how he died for us and just how every word hurt and how he suffered just to give us every word. What did he say? He said, ‘Behold your son.” And then he said ‘Behold your mother.’ Jesus knew he had just about finished his job and done everything that he’d come into this world to fulfil and do. Finally, when he had done all of that, he said, ‘It is finished.’ And when he said ‘It is finished”, that’s the last time he p ulled up with his hands and pushed up with his feet, dragging his back across the cross as he hung there naked before the city of Jerusalem in total shame and humiliation. Convicted and tortured and condemned for something of which he was not guilty.

    If you go back and look at historical accounts, you find that people actually lived on the cross, crucified, for up to six days. If you can, imagine a man hanging on a cross outside the gates of a city with the birds pecking at his eyes and roosting on his head, as he hangs there naked as a spectacle for the whole city. That was the point of this. It was part of the shame and humiliation that a man hang there so people could come by for a day or two and stand and mock and jeer and shout accusations and railings and blasphemy at him. The idea was to make him suffer as much as possible. Crucifixion was never intended to kill anybody, Suffocation did that.”

  9. Sorry Philly, but (assuming the story is true), any physical pain is not convincing.

    This is a god we’re talking about. He could do it again, and again, and again, and again, and again…as many times as he wanted, and it would harm him not at all.

    That’s not a sacrifice.

  10. “This is a god we’re talking about. He could do it again, and again, and again, and again, and again…as many times as he wanted, and it would harm him not at all”

    So your saying that the fact that He is a God makes his death and suffering irrelevant? It was not a sacrifice because he was raised from the dead? and could have done it again?
    The very fact that God allowed his Son to enter the earth helpless and dependent on basic human needs, the fact that He allowed Jesus to experience the complete humiliation and emotional pain of leaving his Fathers side and experiencing His Complete and Just wrath for humankind…I don’t know what you define a sacrifice to be so I will define it for you…
    “to surrender or give up, or permit injury or disadvantage to, for the sake of something”
    how does what God the Father did not fall into that category?

  11. “So your saying that the fact that He is a God makes his death and suffering irrelevant? It was not a sacrifice because he was raised from the dead? and could have done it again?”


    “to surrender or give up, or permit injury or disadvantage to, for the sake of something””

    What was given up? If I can do something over and over again, and still be exactly the same afterward, then I’ve had no injury no disadvantage, and I’ve given up nothing.

  12. “What was given up? If I can do something over and over again, and still be exactly the same afterward, then I’ve had no injury no disadvantage, and I’ve given up nothing.”

    “The wages of sin is death . . . .” (Romans 6:23) All people die — or, at least, we have no evidence that anyone is presently living who is even a short two centuries old and no reason to believe that anyone presently living today is going to live this life forever. The reason people die is sin. If not for the Fall (Genesis 3), there would not be any death for humans. Jesus was different. If Jesus was sinless (and the Bible teaches that he was in Hebrews 4:15), then it follows that he did not earn the death that he suffered. Yet, he voluntarily gave up that life when he had no obligation to do so. That is a sacrifice, plain and simple.”

  13. oh and how do you suscribe to blogs? (im a bit new to wordpress)

  14. “Yet, he voluntarily gave up that life when he had no obligation to do so. That is a sacrifice, plain and simple.”

    The reason this is not a sacrifice is because tomorrow, if god wanted to, he could snap his fingers and have another human life for Jesus on other. Or 2 human lives for him. Or 20 billion.

    He’s god. So unless he dies and stays dead, or dies and suddenly had no powers, then he’s sacrificed nothing because he can always do it again any time he wants.

    “oh and how do you suscribe to blogs? (im a bit new to wordpress)”

    No clue. I’m new too.

  15. “The reason this is not a sacrifice is because tomorrow, if god wanted to, he could snap his fingers and have another human life for Jesus on other. Or 2 human lives for him. Or 20 billion.” First of all God never gave Jesus some sort of “new life” or 1up if you will, Jesus died. and God raised him, just like Lazarus died and Jesus Raised him. Jesus had the scars to prove it.
    Jesus, as the one perfect man, died on the cross in offering to God for the forgiveness of sins. In that very straightforward sense, Jesus’ death was a sacrifice. Now if you are arguing that he didn’t REALLY die then that is another theological debate…one which I am not sure you are arguing…
    I have class in 10 mins so my any responses might not come for a while

    btw I replied to your comment on my post so if you get the time…. 😉

    and when I meant subscriptions I guess they call it blogroll here and it seems as though you have favorited blogs…do you know how to do that?

  16. I agree that death is not a sacrifice if the death isn’t permanent. Sacrifice means you give something up and you do not get it back. When you say, “Jesus gave his life for you,” it’s not true. It wasn’t a sacrifice because he got his life back. The resurrection is symbolic of the “new life” Christians have. But to call it a sacrifice on Jesus’ part is not accurate.

    Also, what Christians are saying here about “the wages of sin is death” and “Jesus needed to die to substitute his death for ours” … I understand that these are in the Christian Bible. But those ideas are not jewish. Jews abhor human sacrifice and believe each must pay the penalty for his own sins. So to say that “Jesus had to” is begging the question, “why did he have to?”

  17. Oh and subscriptions are also called rss feeds or just feeds. A blogroll is the list of feeds I subscribe to. If you want to subscribe to this blog, get a feedreader (Google’s, for example) and subscribe to

    More info here

  18. finally, someone who is listening to the argument, Alice (not really). question begging seems to be the firmament of religious dogma, and even some very well-known apologetics (Anselm’s Ontological Argument being a prime example). The replies i put on here didn’t seem to have drawn any attention. shame
    nice point about sacrifice, that a human(the son of god, no less) be killed ritualistically is deplorable. that in and of itself explains why there are so many jews still…
    Christianity’s early history i think needs to be the topic of another post morsec0de, because i don’t think anyone has it straight, and it’s a very big area of dispute that no one seems to want to bother with…

  19. The big issue I have with the ‘Jesus suffered pain’ argument is that he presumably chose to do it. (Or God chose to do it before becoming Jesus…whatever way you want to put it.) Keeping in mind that he’s God, I doubt it would be too much trouble to simply cause himself to not feel pain. Thus his sacrafice would be akin to me burning myself with a blowtorch, entirely of my own free will and then claiming afterwards that I had gone through enormous pain ‘for you’. It wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense.

  20. god can’t make choices since he never changes his mind and is omniscient. he wouldn’t need to, he’s omnipotent, and perfectly moral. but still he expects us to pick up the tab at the end of the day…

  21. Okay, so I didn’t read all the comments so I might be retreading ground here.

    Morsec0de, you make a completely valid point. What sacrifice did Jesus make if Jesus is God? Why does God need to sacrifice to himself? What did he lose?

    Well, I argue that you’re looking at it in the wrong way, from a strictly protestant/Roman Catholic perspective. See, the tricky thing is is that there’s actually another, older Christian tradition out there called Eastern Orthodoxy. In the year 1054 the Roman Catholics split off from the united Church (which was later, after the schism, known by the name of Eastern Orthodoxy) because the Bishop of Rome (Pope) decided that he should have all the power of controlling Christiandom. 500 years later Martin Luther did his little bit and eventually what we know as protestantism broke off from RCC.

    So, what does the older (non-reformed since at least the 3rd or 4 century) say about this issue? God didn’t make any kind of sacrifice. Nope. He didn’t come to take away any sins, at least not in the sense of taking away some existential “thing” which humanity possessed.

    Now, I’m not going to use this to argue with you whether or not Christianity is true blah blah blah but only to give you the Orthodox perspective of things, and to do so I have to explain a few more concepts (since Orthodoxy is a systematic whole which cannot be broken down into smaller parts).

    When Adam and Eve (whether they were actual persons or just represent humanity in general isn’t important) commit the original sin of going against the will of God and essential ‘link’n (of some sorts) was broken between God an humanity and one of the results of this was that humanity’s incorrupt nature and form began to corrupt, leading ultimately to death. The result was that we became enslaved to our passions, making it really hard to fight against them (i.e. living cool, rationally, focused, and purposefully as opposed to living only for pleasure, material gain, etc. in non-religious terms)

    The Orthodox understand of ‘sin’ is that a sin is any action or thought in which rather than aligning our will with the will of God, focuses strictly on our own will. When someone sins they go against the will god. Understood like this having a beer after work isn’t a sin. Having so many just so that you can give your physical body pleasure to the exclusion of pleasing God -is- a sin (and here you can make all your comments on God being a tyrant for wanting us to please him blah blah blah but in order to understand Christianity it necessarily pre-supposes the idea of God as creator of everything. If he created me for that purpose then that’s my purpose, I can rebel against that purpose but then I have to except the consequences of that, of which I’ve explained in response to your comment on another blog).

    Sin, being the result of giving in to our passions is seen a sickness of the soul. The Orthodox church views salvation more in medical terms, rather than legalistically as protestants and catholics do.

    When Christ was born and God took on flesh, he effectively re-sanctified creation; he restored that link, that bridge, between humanity and the Divine. He made it possible once more for us to approach God directly. Maybe a good analogy would be two magnets. When we were first created, before the original sin, the force between God and humanity was attractive. After the fall it became repulsive, and by taking on humanity God ‘turned our magnet’ back around.

    When Christ died on the cross, and then subsequently rose again afterwards, what he did was defeat the hold that death has on us. He made it so that death was not a necessary consequence of being alive. Christians believe that while the material body eventually corrupts to the point of failing (as sin is still present in the world) the soul continues to live apart from the body until such a time as God will fashion for us new, perfect bodies, reunite our souls with them, and then body and soul will reside in the presence of God. Before this time, before Christ had resanctified the flesh and conquered death, body and soul ceased to exist in this world and instead was cast to Sheol (Hades in Greek). Both the righteous and the unrighteous went to Sheol, as can be found in the Hebrew books of Job and Ecclesiastes.

    When Christ died, he too went down to Sheol. But, being God, death could not hold Him, and Heloosed the bonds of death and brought the righteous to reside with him in heaven; an event sometimes known as the Harrowing of Hades.

    This, along with making a new covenent with humanity, was the entire reason for Christ’s birth and subsequent death. To enable humanity once more to be able to approach the realm of the divine, and to provide a way for humanity to overcome the effects of the passions and sin.

    As I said before, I’m not trying to a persuasive case that will cause to to suddenly “see the light.” That’s not my place. St. Syncletica said “He who smells of his own foul odor does not smell the foul odor of anyone else, even though he might stand upon the breasts of corpses.” I just wanted to explain to you the Orthodox understanding of the questions posed in your post.

  22. Well Zacharias, color me impressed! You had the audacity to change the very nature of the question. I applaude you.
    Let’s see…so, orthadoxy states that God didn’t lose anything, but merely fixed what was broken. Very nice, much better than the alternative, with all this human 100% divine 100% nonsense. He was never really ‘mortal’ so there is no point of contention. I approve once more.
    However, the analogy of magnets… Humans are akin to electromagnets and have the ability to switch, am i correct? well, when we were ‘corpses in waiting’ as it were, it was near impossible to control our own fate, but Jesus made it And i liked that you made Genisis into an allagory instead of a literal record of events. Dodged a bullet there. The only unresolved question then is evil (which i’m rigorously debating with Compass on Godless Bible study)?
    Oh, i know he isn’t E. Orthadox, but could you respond to this:

    I guess the only thing to do now is wait and see what Morse Has to say…

  23. Well, there is the whole thing about how God has no meaning without humanity though… but i doubt there is any ground to agree upon there. The reverse would be true as well, i understand that, but that’s perfectly fine with me. I fully intend to put into practice Nietzche’s ideology.

  24. Eh, the magnet thing was just rough analogy, not sure if I made it clear what I was trying to say, I tend to get writing and end thoughts midway. Was just using that as a way of saying how before the fall there was a connection between God and a humanity, an “attractive force” of sorts, and when humanity decided to go against the will of God, then our magnet was flipped around and we were not able to make that same connection as before. I’ll go take a look at that link you posted.

    As for the existence of evil thing, the way I see it evil doesn’t have a ‘positive’ existence, but rather a ‘negative’ one. Evil is not an active, objective force, but rather the absence of good, in the same way that darkness is the absence of light.

    Is the problem you’re referring to the question of why God allows evil to continue to exist? I think I briefly read over the comments in the thread your talking about.

  25. @Rickr0ll regarding Sproul:

    I vehemently reject the idea of pre-destination. One thing that I truely do not understand is how there are some Christians that believe “once saved, always saved.” How can that be at all possible? If we believe that then what is to stop a Christian from acting any manner which they like after they just “accept Christ into their heart” (whatever that means).

    Salvation in Christianity is an ongoing event. I would never have the audactity to say that I am saved. The Orthodox Christian freely admits that he does not know if he is saved or not, only that we rely on the grace and love of God. The correct formulation of the statement would be: I have been saved, I am being saved, and I will be saved. Nor does the Orthodox Christian worry too much about the salvation of their soul. The main focus in Orthodoxy is worshipping the Creator.

    Once I become a Christian and sincerely (the key word!) desire to live no longer for myself, but for God, then in that moment I attain the Kingdom of Heaven. If however, I revert back to living for the Kingdom of Man, then I have actively chosen this world over the next and thus will be my fate. Unless however I repent from that, admit my mistakes, and again sincerely strive to live for God.

    The way I see it, and I’m no expert in this and anyone who claims to have absolute and pure knowledge of the way God works is deluding themselves, is that at the end of our lives God will weigh our intentionality. This isn’t the same counting out and keeping a tally of our good actions vs. our bad actions, nor placeing our actions in relation to each other. It’s about sincerity, about actively working to live for God. If I have spent my entire life killing, raping, etc, but in the last few years -sincerely- feel sorrow for my actions and -sincerely- wish to change my life and live for God rather than my self, then God will recognize this.

    I also believe that is not only Christians who will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven (and this is oh so controversial!). I believe what is written in the Bible yes, but I do not believer that Bible is synonymous with Christianity. God has revealed himself to be a merciful, and it is in this mercy that I trust. If there is a Hindu, or Muslim, or even a (gasp!) Athiest who truley strives to live a good a life and does not blaspheme God, then I believe there is a chance (however slim) that God will have mercy on them and allow them to be with Him as well. Of course the surer path is one of believing God in striving to follow his commandments, but who am I to decide for God who he will and will not show mercy on?

    So as for all pre-destination stuff, I say it goes against the entire spirit of Christianity. If God has choosen from the beginning of time who will and who will not end up with him, then what is the point in worshiping him? What is the point in ‘picking up our cross daily?’

  26. indeed
    If mercy is the cornerstone upone which you base your argument, then there is nothing to diswade me from joining now except stubborness and principle. I agree, but you seem to be making the assumption that “Hey i’m saved, woo-hoo, anything goes” is only a Calvanist mentality, far from it; but your discription of salvation applies to the Calvanist as well as any other christian denomination, because only God knows if we are truly saved. It’s not about lip service in any church.
    I bring up predestination because there is a long held understanding that time does not exist in a scientific sense. it is a dimention, and the only thing that moves is our perception of time. I cannot see that such a view is compatible with free will, but then again, niether is omniscence. Maybe he picks us becasue he knows who will pick up thier cross every day, from eternity. They aren’t causally linked. It’s a statement about the very nature of reality.
    Oh, and evil? Where’d it come from? just checking

  27. What i’m saying, in a nutshell, is that the end result is one or the other, and God knows which. Choice has nothing to do with it. God has to choose the one’s that are Christ-like as well as the Christains have to choose to be godly. But it’s all unfolding from eternity to eternity, not pivitol at the present. If the universe exists, it exists exactly as it does right now, and since the past existed exactly as it did, the future will exist exactly as it will. Thus the universe exists exactly as it shall throughout it’s entire history. If you believe in the Many Worlds Interpretation, then freedom is not constrained at all.

  28. sorry Zach, didn’t notice the first post there. I mean, “where did evil come from in the first place?”

  29. Rick, why does fore-knowledge necessarily entail lack of choice?

    Just because I know that if someone sticks their hand in the fire, it will burn them, doesn’t mean that I force them to stick their hand in the fire.

    Is that what you’re saying? That since God knows how everything will turn out, he forces it that way? Or am I misunderstanding you?

    God might know that I will eventually and definitively turn away from him in the future, but that doesn’t mean that he makes me go to hell. I choose that myself by turning away.

  30. i understand that perfectly. All i’m saying is that he knows what your choice is. You still choose of course, but the fact that you would want to and act upon it is all in the history of the universe. You say that The Bible is the Word of God, but Nature is an even better tesatament to his will and power as you state. And since we understand all forces in the universe to be indifferent to time, the same can be said about chioces that people make. It’s not lack of chioce, it’s lack of freedom. There is a descrepancy.

    We still do what we want, and in that sense, we have free will, but we have no control over what thoughts develop in our minds, unless we’re spacifically refering to that maybe 15-20% we consciously keep track of. The brain has all sorts of mean-spirited ways to get you to do something, all subconscious impulses that direct the course of you life and even your memories. that’s nature in action. We don’t even know what are chioces Are, so talking about choice is a bit like discussing the color of the Goldback Conjecture; there are a few privvy to this knowledge, God being the main one of course.

    For a full discussion of the Problem of Evil, see my posts on Godless Bible Study (after John shore’s breif appearance). If you would be so kind, i would like That discussion there and the free will topic Here. Thanks again, it’s great fun to have a fairly informed recipient of my comments

  31. “Thanks again, it’s great fun to have a fairly informed recipient of my comments”

    I’m a philosophy major, I get off on debating 😉


  32. What an incredable compliment. I’m only a philosophy enthusiest.
    hahaha. 😉

  33. Since you have revieled that much, i want to know your opinions on the Ontological Argument (and for the sake of being on the same page, Anselm’s in particular)_

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