Happy Thor’s Day
August 2019 Revision Notes:
It has been almost a year since I wrote these originally starting in November of 2018. When I got to the rotation in Odin’s Eye the last time where I was going to deal with these objections again, I saw no need for revision but rather simply laid it out there that no one had responded to them to that date and moved on into the rest of the Rotation for Odin’s Eye.
This time though I feel that I need to spend four weeks of Odin’s Eye doing some revisions that will either clarify my position, add some other thoughts or edit for other issues. Such edits will be marked by italics. When archived, they will appear under the original post on this Page: My Four Theological Objections to Christianity
Mostly though this is a cut and paste with some revisions. As the series goes on there will be more revisions as I can see the need for things to change a bit in the other three objections. In part three, I felt the need to add a few paragraphs for hopefully a clearer explanation.
I know I will probably get a reaction out of this one and I am not trying to be provocative. I am simply trying to get people to see the logical problems of Salvation through Christ. Once you dismiss sin as a made-up concept, you could say that it is really unnecessary to go after ‘God’s’ solution to the problem, but the whole of Christianity revolves around Christ’s work on the cross and the resurrection to save people from sin and from eternal damnation. You might say it is the core doctrine no matter what flavor of Christianity you live by so it deserves some attention.
For the sake of argument, let’s concede sin is real. Then does the solution the Bible presents God has for it make any sense?
Of course, the first thing that can be said is each flavor of Christianity stakes out is how said salvation is achieved with Christ. The faith versus works controversy starts right away in the first century. James and Paul go at it right in the Bible. Now I heard multiple explanations from both Protestants and Catholics of why James and Paul are not arguing about the same thing really but they practically quote each other with only one variation. One says salvation in Christ cannot be of works so no one can boast, and the other one says that without works it is impossible to show faith. No matter how you logically try to get them to be ‘defending the same salvation only from different directions”; it is contradictory. One is saying that works have nothing to do with salvation, and the other is saying it does.
So what this really shows is that even in the Bible and among early Christians, they had disputes and disagreements about how this works and thus it points to the Bible not being inspired by God, so much as it records those early debates among the faithful about how salvation worked. That makes the Bible very human and also not the Word of God because if God had actually wanted to tell us how this works; because it seems it would be the most important thing for us to know, he would have made it plain, straightforward and quite frankly non-contradictory.
Of course, every flavor of Christianity goes even further with specifics and added on things to the doctrine of salvation in Christ. The Catholic Church plain out tells you that you can only be saved from death through them and no one else. Many Protestant denominations will tell you the same. My former denomination would tell people that they had the whole gospel, not just part of it. Salvation is complicated by religion because religion seeks to use these ideas to keep people grateful and faithful for telling those people their version of ‘the truth’.
In the end, I would say that each variation of salvation through Christ is presented in a way that helps the group presenting it. It is done to layout their other doctrinal tenants so their way of thinking about God is central to it all, and thus gives a theological force to everything they believe. Of course, this gives religion the guilt and punishment/reward options it needs to manipulate people.
Religion aside though, my objections are theological – what kind of God do we have, who claims to be merciful and loving, but demands for his followers to be forgiving without condition, but doesn’t do so himself? It also brings up the question of the ability to forgive in that we are expected to forgive each other without condition because we can, even as sinners. Yet, a holy God can’t simply forgive without sacrificing his only begotten son in one of the cruelest ways ever devised by man. He must have this sacrifice or he cannot forgive at all, and I must have faith in it and the resurrection or he will not forgive me specifically. Worse yet if I don’t forgive others as a Christian, he won’t forgive me. He can choose to not forgive others and still be a holy God, but if I don’t forgive, I cannot be saved? So I, as a ‘sinner’, have not only a greater expectation than my creator; but also I am more capable because I can do this forgiveness without conditions, but he cannot?
This bit of ‘logic’ pales in comparison to the fact that in order to forgive us he must sacrifice himself to himself, to appease himself to save us from himself. See the problem? Well Ed, what if then the whole doctrine of salvation as it currently stands is man-made and that isn’t the real doctrine of salvation God wanted? How then would we ever know the real one? It seems a little too confusing for something so important as eternal life. My response that the current one is man-made? – exactly, and that is probably true from the start of Christianity to where it actually stands today. It seems to me that this idea is just as man-made because a supreme being could have come up with the simple plan to just forgive people. As Jesus is praying in the garden “if it is possible, let this cup pass from me” we would see the opening up the heavens and God saying -“You know what, I have a better plan – let’s just forgive people like I expect them to forgive each other.” That would be just, logical and consistent.
There is also another theological side issue – How much of a sacrifice is it really for Jesus if he knows for certain (which he indicates three times in the gospels) that he will rise from the dead? Honestly, if he knew that and most people who have faith believe he did and the text certainly seems to indicate he did, then it isn’t that big of a sacrifice? He knows he is not going to ultimately be dead in the end; so why not do it, as there is no ultimate risk to him? In the end, Jesus is risking nothing himself as God, just going through the inconvenience of temporal suffering. Why? To make a point? What point would that be, when there is nothing actually sacrificed in the end? He lives and knows he is going to live so why the anguish?
I guess this leaves me with the question from a spiritual point of view as to what salvation is? Or does it? I mean, if there is no such thing as sin, there is no need to be saved from it. Of course, then I could be left with the question of what the real divine reality might expect from me? I guess the only thing then is to live a good life regardless of what that divine reality might be. Marcus Aurelius rightly observes, in my opinion, this in his famous quote on the good life.
Of course, you are kind of left to things yourself as to define what virtues you will live by to attain that good life. In short, what is defined as a good life is left to you.
The implications of losing the whole notion of sin and a need for salvation have been very liberating. There is no guilt or shame in my heart or mind at all these days. I do try every day to be a better man than I was the day before. This, I have found is a far better way to live.
Better yet, is discarding the notion of a loving God who also sends people he loves to hell. Because the god of the Bible seems to have some major issues with justice, but that is the subject of the next post.
The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.