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Saving Jesus

(237 Posts)
OutwiththeOutCrowd Thu 28-May-15 23:01:53

The more I think about the story of the death of Jesus on the cross, the more I feel I want to go back in a time machine and beg him not to go through with it. From what I understand, and assuming for the moment that the story is true, Jesus could have found a way out, but felt it was the will of God and his destiny to allow events to play out without his resistance.

I just wonder, though, if Jesus (and God?) could, in principle, have been persuaded to change his mind on the matter if enough people had understood in advance the fatalism of his thinking and pleaded with him not to do it on their account?

Would there have been a way to convince him that he didn’t have to fulfil prophecies, nor save us from our sins?

You see, my personal feeling is that, if I am intrinsically unworthy of heaven, and ‘boosted’ into the possibility of experiencing it only through the sacrifice of Jesus, I would rather accept that death is the end and have Jesus escape crucifixion. If suffering of an innocent being is the price to be paid for heaven, then I would prefer to give up on such a heaven and take the rap for my own sins.

Am I alone in feeling this way? I really don't think I can be.

Had Jesus lived longer, he would probably have found time to write his memoirs, providing a record of his teachings in a form we could be confident he was happy with. We would not have to worry about the inerrancy, or otherwise, of the New Testament. If he had wanted to start a church, he could have been specific about his intentions for it.

Moreover, there would have been more time for his influence as a teacher to spread and for his life to be documented by the writers of the day in such a way that his very existence wouldn’t be in question. While we wouldn’t have an afterlife in heaven to look forward to, the writings of Jesus would illuminate our path in the life we do have. (I am assuming no afterlife, but if it had to be hell, at least it would be hell with a conscience unburdened by the thought of having been complicit in the suffering of Jesus.)

I know it’s not really possible to change the past, and many will think me bonkers and/or naive for thinking about changing the history of Christianity, but who would come with me in my time machine to try to save Jesus?

headinhands Fri 29-May-15 08:14:59

I get you. I would not be happy for someone innocent to be tortured for me. It's a grotesque notion. We don't even like to think about animals suffering in laboratories. I don't think I deserve to be tortured. I find it sad that so many people seem to think we all deserve to be tortured. infinitely.

heylilbunny Fri 29-May-15 08:40:47

What comes to mind here is the fact that Jesus had two wills: human and divine. Don't ask me about it! I still need to get my head round it myself but a great Jesuit (priestly intellectual order to which Pope Francis belongs) theology teacher asked our Masters level class that question "Did Jesus have two wills or one?" I was quite gobsmacked when he said two. I asked how/why and said we needed to take the Christiology class which I never managed to get into before I left to have a baby.

I do think what you are both discussing while interesting does not line up with what Christians believe, at least Catholics, so it becomes moot. We need a good Catholic theologian around here.

headinhands Fri 29-May-15 10:03:37

But we are reading the same book. And there is not much consensus amongst Christians anyway so my reading is as valid as anyone else's. If we need someone else to interpret it for us shouldn't God have got someone to write another book to go in the bible?

Whiteshirt Fri 29-May-15 10:18:15

Honestly, OP, what you say is in fact a perfectly natural and humane response to indoctrination by a religion that encourages you to feel grateful to an ill-defined Father-Son God hybrid for one part 'sacrificing his only son'/ the other part 'giving up his life' for a humanity defined as always already sinful before birth and by its very nature, and requiring complex rituals to wash away the 'sin'.

Presumably -if you believe in the divinity of Jesus - Jesus, being God, lived exactly as long as he planned, so we need to assume that, following that thought to its logical conclusion, that the partial, belated, non-eye-witness, mutually-contradictory accounts of his teachings in the gospels are what he wanted, and it's not that he was cruelly cut off in his prime before he had a chance to get to a reputable scribe.

Yes, having to feel grateful that someone innocent allowed himself to be tortured and slowly murdered in order to atone for your sins, albeit thousands of years before you were born, is grotesque. I cannot tell you how much better I felt once I took responsibility for my own ethics, and stopped feeling the need to somehow be grateful to a supernatural being for being murdered, rather than exercising his omnipotence to make a less brutal and unjust world (cue strenuous theological chuntering about 'free will').

headinhands Fri 29-May-15 10:25:37

chuntering about free will

God doesn't want robots which is why he lets people commit rape. Except we'd be considered monstrous if we didn't prevent/intervene if we saw someone being raped.

PeppermintCrayon Fri 29-May-15 10:29:48

Personally I see it more as Jesus having the human experience of suffering and dying. He experienced what it is to be human.

BertrandRussell Fri 29-May-15 10:34:16

"Personally I see it more as Jesus having the human experience of suffering and dying. He experienced what it is to be human."

But not the human experience of sex or a relationship or fatherhood or growing old or being a widower......................

OutwiththeOutCrowd Fri 29-May-15 11:01:25

Whiteshirt I’m actually agnostic - tending towards atheism – but for some reason I’m often mistaken for a believer. I was making an assumption about the veracity of the Jesus story and then trying to see how things would look to me from inside that mindset. In any case, thanks for your thoughtful contribution – and everyone else who has posted thus far!

Bertrand are you still dreaming of celestial teapots?

niminypiminy Fri 29-May-15 11:13:44

"The more I think about the story of the death of Jesus on the cross, the more I feel I want to go back in a time machine and beg him not to go through with it. From what I understand, and assuming for the moment that the story is true, Jesus could have found a way out, but felt it was the will of God and his destiny to allow events to play out without his resistance.

I just wonder, though, if Jesus (and God?) could, in principle, have been persuaded to change his mind on the matter if enough people had understood in advance the fatalism of his thinking and pleaded with him not to do it on their account?

Would there have been a way to convince him that he didn’t have to fulfil prophecies, nor save us from our sins? "

I can see why you think all this, especially if your encounter with Christianity has been with a form of conservative evangelicalism fixated on penal substitutionary atonement (judging from your posts I think this is the case). But there are problems with thinking in this way.

1) The theological understanding of Jesus's death is a post-facto explanation that wasn't available to Jesus himself at the time. It's the attempt by the early church to get their head around Jesus's death and resurrection, and what it all meant.

2) Jesus was killed because he was a threat to the established order: it was a political killing. There is no guarantee that if he had not been executed when he was that he would have lived a long life. A man preaching the kind of message that he did would have come into conflict with both the Jewish and the Roman authorities sooner or later. What Jesus did was accept that this would happen and embrace the inevitable.

4) Without Jesus's death there would have been no resurrection. Without the resurrection there would have been no church. Without the church there would have been -- even if we are simply thinking of the social consequences -- no hospitals, no human rights, no polyphony, no stained glass, no universities ... and so on. It was the resurrection that was the fact that convinced the disciples that something world-changing had happened, and the fact of the resurrection that led them to spread the good news about the kingdom of God.

5) The resurrection brings us hope. Now, hope may not mean much to you, and if that's the case, that's fine. You talk of being prepared to accept that death is the end because you don't want someone to have died for you. But millions of people have died for you: for example, the standard of living we enjoy in Europe and America would have been inconceivable without the death and suffering of millions of Africans in the slave trade. They died so that our ancestors and we could be comfortable. We live in something like peace because our grandfathers' generation gave up their lives in millions during the second world war. The examples could go on an on. To say that no-one should have hope - hope that death is not the end, hope that the suffering of life on earth might be redeemed, hope that God will bring all things to fulfilment beyond the end of time - because you do not want someone to have died for you is to live in denial about the way we all already benefit from death and suffering.

There's more, much more, to say. But that'll do for now.

headinhands Fri 29-May-15 11:13:52

But he's all knowing isn't he so he would just know what it is to be human without having to spend time as a human. Does he have empathy problems?

headinhands Fri 29-May-15 11:19:10

no hospitals, no human rights

No crusades, no medieval witch hunts. But really, how do you think the parts of the world that didn't don't have Christianity manage to function without an active church?

headinhands Fri 29-May-15 11:20:47

Without the church we would have been unable to make the massive leaps in LGBT rights that we have in recent years.

JoanHickson Fri 29-May-15 11:22:09

I was getting upset for Jesus and "Does he have empathy problems" made me laugh.

The Church has Brough good it has brought bad too. Better an innocent didn't die.

BertrandRussell Fri 29-May-15 11:23:25

"
4) Without Jesus's death there would have been no resurrection. Without the resurrection there would have been no church. Without the church there would have been -- even if we are simply thinking of the social consequences -- no hospitals, no human rights, no polyphony, no stained glass, no universities ... and so on"

Stained glass possibly. Although there is lots of pre christian coloured glass. But hospitals and universities existed long before Christianity. Human rights? Depends what you mean. Polyphony exists in many non christian cultures. I am always amazed when Christians bag all the good stuff!

headinhands Fri 29-May-15 11:23:41

No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

John 12 v 8

headinhands Fri 29-May-15 11:25:08

"Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely"

Human Rights Act

headinhands Fri 29-May-15 11:25:46

Oh silly me, I got those muddled up.

(Except the verse is from Ephesians)

Whiteshirt Fri 29-May-15 11:26:20

Niminy, your comparison between between actual ancestors benefitting from the actual, historical slave trade, or our generation being alive because of soldier deaths in WWII and the possible execution of a man 2000 years ago for whom there is almost no historical record outside the biased testimony of his believers makes absolutely no sense.

headinhands Fri 29-May-15 11:36:06

How is the blatant sexism in the NT tallying with the human rights act? How is expecting women to be quiet in a religious building enshrining gender equality?

JeanneDeMontbaston Fri 29-May-15 11:43:04

Theologically, God is outside time and omniscient. The crucifixion only appears as an event in time (which could be open to change) to us as humans, because human perception is limited and requires chronology.

We just don't understand everything.

headinhands Fri 29-May-15 11:57:06

It's not just the timing that is illogical, it's the need for God to be physically tortured. It makes a lot more sense when you read it outside of faith, and see that it was as barbaric as the rest of the world at the time, and very much a human constructed narrative along with the other religions that required killing and blood shed for people to be 'good enough'. Which christians on here think I actually deserve to suffer physically because I am not perfect?

It's a sad state of affairs to be looking around you at your fellow man and believe that we all deserve torture and punishment.

ginagslovechild Fri 29-May-15 12:04:58

Wasn't the point that he took all our sin on him at the cross , and the punishment was actually God not being able to look at him, turning away etc. Jesus then went to hell, led out the captive and rise again triumphant over death, sin and hell.

So now when we truly repent and accept his sacrifice, God can look on us and accept us into heaven.

I'm a bit rusty on this, it's been a while since I thought about these things.

JeanneDeMontbaston Fri 29-May-15 12:05:14

Yes, it makes more sense if you read it as a barbaric historical act.

But, it would, wouldn't it?

The timing issue matters because there's no causality if there's no chronology. It's not that God needs to be tortured, it's that we can't really imagine omnipotence or evil, so we need a narrative in which to represent it. We need this idea of a human who suffers like we do, in order to process the concept of divinity.

Though, there is also a slightly heretical argument that God needed to become human in order to know what pain was like, because without that, joy is meaningless.

ginagslovechild Fri 29-May-15 12:07:51

I think the physical punishment wasn't the point really, yes it was brutal but the punishment was God the father turning his back from him, the spiritual separation, which is alot of Christians idea of hell, being serperated from God for eternity.
The blood etc is a metaphor, saved by the blood of the lamb, another metaphor symbolising the Jewish sacrifice of old which was ultimately derived from the killing of innocent Abel by his brother Cain.

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