This is a continuation of a series of quotations from, and commentary of, my reading of John Frame’s book, Salvation Belongs to the Lord, which I am reading for a class about faith in Christian life. I will be under-cover, so shhhhh…..
“as believers in Christ we don’t get what we deserve. We deserve death, but God has placed that punishment of death on his Son. In Jesus’ death he gets what we deserve….”
Now, this quotation brings up nothing new to me, but I think it is more valid to quote what an actual Christian says than to try and summarize based upon generalities. This way, no straw-men are hurt in the writing of this post.
This common theme, that we are all sinners worthy of death, is disturbing to me. It is not disturbing in the way that Frame, and other Christians, may expect it to be disturbing; I am not worried about the death that I deserve. I’m disturbed because this view seeks to distract us from this world, a world of this magical and mythological thing called ‘sin’ which supposedly pervades our very being.
Christian theology seeks, fundamentally, to make us feel broken. It is a great marketing technique to make the customer feel like they lack something, then to present them with a product to fill that gap. The fact that religion tends to use this method quite frequently explains that it’s success has to do with how our brains work and are manipulated much more than religious messages being true.
But what are they selling? Belief in Jesus, right? Well, yes, but it is done through this substitutional atonement; Jesus suffered for your sins. This makes no sense at all, but it seems sweet of him to try. This substitutional framework is mirrored on the idea that Adam, who represents us in his fall from the “covenant of works” (by which humanity was tested to see if they could obey God’s laws and failed in the eating of the fruit of the tree…you know the story). Adam failed, Adam represents us. Jesus succeeded, and Jesus seeks to represent us if we would only believe….
There is something in the mind that catches at this. It is a subtle psychological method going on here. There is a subtle manipulation, one that I have never succumbed to, but I feel it. I don’t feel it in a desirous way, I feel it in a way similar to that feeling I get when I hear a good sales pitch. I subtly think yeah, that makes a kind of sense…I should buy that! but am then returned to reality where I don’t need a George Foreman grill.
(I’m waiting for some Christians to tell me that this feeling is God trying to reach out, but my hardened heart refuses to accept the free gift…you now the drill.)
And so God gave his only begotten Son and all that, right? We should feel thankful, shouldn’t we? Well, I have addressed Jesus’ ‘sacrifice‘ before, and I don’t think much of it. I know the whole “fully God, fully man” thing is supposed to make it possible for Jesus to suffer and make the crucifixion meaningful, but I don’t buy that either. I guess that makes me a heretic for not accepting the Chalcedonian Declaration. Whether Nestorian, Monophysite, or mythicist, I am certainly a heretic of some sort.
People, we are not sinners. There is no reason to believe a literal and historical Fall occurred. There is no reason to accept that a mythological Fall occurred, or that we are inherently sinful or broken in any spiritual way. In fact, there is no reason to accept the existence of a non-metaphorical ‘spirit’ or ‘soul’ in the first place.
Any imperfections in our being are due to the blind forces that formed us over millions of years of evolution–not some moral failing due to lack of obedience to some megalomaniacal bully of a god. We have the ability to educate ourselves, improve ourselves, and we don’t need a savior from any fairy-tale sins.
There is nothing to save us from.