Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Christ, the Lamb of God: Christianity and Sacrifice

The Theological Question of the class: What does sacrifice say about God, about our relationship to God?

The idea of sacrifice might seem rather pagan to most Christians. After all sacrifice usually mean and has usually meant animal, or human sacrifice to a God or Gods. Yet the Judaism that Christianity derives from practice animal sacrifice. Christianity also believes in sacrifice, after all to most Christians Christ is the Lamb of God who takes way the Sins of the World. Christ died for our sins, is a phrase heard often in Christian churches. Therefore Christians, if there faith is based on the concept that Christ sacrificed his life to save us from hell, not only believe in sacrifice but also in human sacrifice by torture.
As a Christian and an intellectual I am less interested in weather Christians believe in human sacrifice and more interested in what the idea of sacrifice means about the nature of God and our relationship to God. The whole idea of sacrifice assumes that God needs something from us, or is demanding that we suffer in some way to prove something to her. It also means that we fear God, that we fear some sort of wrath or punishment from God if we do not satisfy her in some way. I cannot in good faith believe in a God that needs something physical from us, besides from our love. I cannot believe in a God that demands us to suffer simply for the sack of suffering, and I cannot in any way believe in a relationship of fear between God and humans. Jesus preached, love, caring and compassion. Again and again he emphasized that helping others and living a good life was what God wanted from us. Jesus taught of a loving God. I therefore feel I cannot be Christian and believe in sacrifice with its relationship of fear and pettiness.
My God is loving not wrathful. Therefore I cannot believe that Jesus was sacrificed to God for our sins or for any other reason. I cannot imagine my God wanting or condoning the sacrifice of a human life especially one as beloved as Jesus. Jesus died because certain parts of the powers of his time where not open minded enough to understand his message, and like so many other good people died for political and social reasons not because God wanted him tortured to death.

7 comments:

Divine Joan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
forrest said...

[There's also the meaning of "sacrifice" in a chess game--a deliberate loss of something you value, but strictly to gain a tactical or strategic advantage.]

Anyway, people generally think that "the whole idea of sacrifice assumes that God needs something from us, or is demanding that we suffer to prove something to her." But that assumes too much. What it really says is that human beings felt required to give something back to God, or to suffer to prove something to ourselves.

There is a common belief that Jesus died to mollify an angry Father... while his death might better be seen as a means of reassuring a frightened human race. There was a pious idea (still going around even in "Christian" circles) that God planned to fix human sin by force and violence against the sinners--But instead, our human model of God accepted failure and death rather than "win" by miracles of violence (as in our culture's typical stories, including the traditional "Second Coming" scenario.)

Is "death" really death? To God? Please think about this!

Anna said...

Forrest:
I am not trying to say that Jesus's "sacrifice" is not impotant merely that it is not the most importan thing about him. I am uncomfortable with the idea of boiling Christianity down to "Christ died for our sins" as some may Christians tend to do. For me this totally misses the point of what it means to be Christian. I am also desterbed by the image of God that is create if we look at the story of Jesus so narrowly. There is so much for the the story then that. Also I was partly responding to a class descution I had had on the idea of physical animal sacrifice as seen by Pagans Jews and Christians.
When it comes right down to it the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is not that important to by vision of Christianity, it's just not.

Peace and Joy,
Anna.

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