Good Question...


On...What was the use of Christ's death?



On Thu, 3 Aug 1995 XXX wrote:

question: 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 from?

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!

warmly,
glenn miller (the Christian Skeptic)



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