On Thu, 3 Aug 1995 XXX wrote:
What was the use of Christ's death?
The answer "to save us from our sins" does not make
any sense to me.
What is it that my sins are doing that I need to be saved
Let me address that from three perspectives: one from secular psychology,
one from 'general religion', and one from Biblical Judeo-Christianity...
(1) From Secular Psychology: we know from psychology (and to a certain
extent from social sciences) that certain 'bad' moral choices cause
psychological problems and stresses, and continued violations of internal
(or even assumed) moral codes produces mental
fragmentation/disintegration...moral choices have DEFINITE deleterious
effects on our personalities and our relationships...in some cases (like
addiction) they even create the situation where we cannot 'break out' of
certain destructive patterns...these destructive (and debilitating)
aspects of evil moral choices (aka 'sin') are NATURAL effects...the death
of Christ is the basis for God to 'intervene' in some cases to 'free' us
from this destructive chain...in other words, on the basis of the
sacrifice of Jesus, God the Father is free to create interactions in our
psyches and in our historical setting (e.g. with other people) that can
alter these courses...[very brief exposition of this, but you probably
get the idea...] God can somehow soften, retard, or even re-route some of
the negative effects of our choices--IF we have asked Him to 'interfere'
in our life FOR OUR GOOD, on the basis of His Son's work on the cross...
(2) from 'general religion': Most religions point out the same fact
above, but add a new wrinkle--that of the good of the universe...our evil
moral choices affect OTHERS--our families (e.g. alcoholism), our
environment (e.g. selfish abuse of the earth), our human race (e.g. Hitler's
attempt at genocide)...the religions teach us that overcoming our
tendencies (as individuals AND AS A GROUP) requires some kind of 'extra
help'--this might be 'insight' or 'transcendence' or "god"...but we need
help in reducing the consequences of our evil actions--long enough to get
better...the Death of Christ 'frees GOD' to act in the lives of others
(not just our own, as in #1 above) and to soften, retard, re-direct THEIR
choices in some cases for the benefit of the WHOLE...
(3) from Biblical Judeo-Christian revelation: if the Christian is correct
in his/her analysis that God has 'spoken' into history in the bible, then
the message that God gave about the effects of evil is VERY SCARY...He
has said that sin disrupts ALL OF REALITY!...not just our personalities
(#1), not just the social whole (#2), but the universe and our
relationship with HIM--the foundational relationship of all! Sin produces
death, disintegration, malice, disruption, weakness, apathy, etc...NOT a
pretty picture...this revelation points out that even GOD is affected by
it...He is 'part of the natural consequences'...one of His 'jobs' is to
provide justice for the mis-treated...this means that the 'job' of
judgment on the Hitlers and Torquemadas and Pol Pots of the world is
REQUIRED by our moral choices, in spite of His disdain for judgment--"I
take no pleasure in the death of the wicked" He says in the Old
Testament...WE have created the situation in which His judgment is
required...'retaliation' is not an appropriately accurate word for this;
'justice' is more on target...
What these three (there are more, of course) lines of thought lead to, is
that we DO NEED some way to counteract the significant, horrible,
pervasive, and debilitating destructive consequences of personal
evil...and history has demonstrated our general lack of human ability to
'self improvement'...but the 'minority church' (not the institutional
church, with its often hypocritical and exploitative leadership) has
produced numerous examples of individuals who have overcome MAJOR evil
orientations in the their lives through a relationship with God (facilitated
through the Death of Christ on the Cross as their substitute)--the murdering
zealot rabbi (Saul of tarsus, who became the apostle Paul), the
debaucherous and vandalist Augustine, the subtle and persuasive skeptics
C.S. Lewis and Sir William Ramsey--to name a few...
I personally have seen change in my life--in overcoming chronic personal
limitations of character--that I have no way to account for other that a
relationship to the Living God...a relationship that could have only
occurred when the Cross had freed me from having to be the 'target' of
God's reluctant justice and also opened up my world to God's involvement
and interaction in my consciousness and my experiences with others...
I hope this makes sense...it IS a bit concentrated...feel free to ask me
for more details or to ask for documentation etc...
thanks again for your question, for visiting the Thinktank, and for being
frank and honest in your question!--keep thinking and probing!
glenn miller (the Christian Skeptic)