In this post I begin my case that we need not understand the torture and death of Jesus as a human sacrifice God demands in retribution for humanity having original sin so that He will forgive us for having original sin. Instead I will be arguing that our morality, to which God in his mercy allows us to be bound while having original sin, demanded the execution of Jesus in retribution for our having original sin so that we can be forgiven for having original sin.
Here, I give the broad outline of my argument and elaborate on details in subsequent posts. *s refer to notes at the end of this post linking to earlier posts on the topics marked.
A crucial question answered in this post is “From what does Jesus’ suffering and execution free us?” I am struggling to express clearly an insight that Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection brought it about in “the fullness of time” that the human condition is not as nihilists describe it.
Despite our having the original sin of repudiating God and morality, God still gives us morality as the means for attaining our good.* Our good is being as we ought to be. But we have morality while still repudiating it. Our reasoning is in conflict.** Satan exploits this conflict
Satan, who has the power of adding thoughts to human thinking*** adds thoughts which push human moral thinking to an extreme which would destroy the very moral thinking it exploits.
Moral thought goes to the extreme by leading us to think that there ought to be elimination of humanity for having original sin and acting on the original sin we have. Put another way: The original sin we have is a choice to be amoral animals. Moral thinking rightly requires that there be unpleasant consequences of wrong acts which are somehow in proportion to the wrong done.**** The extreme moral thinking alleges that our repudiation of morality requires that we suffer the consequences of choosing to be amoral beings. A consequence of choosing to be amoral beings is exactly that, viz., being amoral beings. In addition the horror story dimension of human history is brought up to make a case that humans are such a vile species that we should be eliminated. “Killer Angels,” the title of Michael Shaara’s 1974 novel of the Battle of Gettysburg seems an apt description of human beings.
But what would it be to eliminate the human species whose members are animals with a moral destiny, a morality to attain that moral destiny but yet are animals who repudiate that morality?
Simply having the human species be eliminated by a catastrophe or becoming slowly extinct would not be the elimination of humanity as moral beings. Such an extinction is likely to happen well before the end of the ages. But the human species with a moral end would not be actually eliminated The physically extinct species would still be a species which had the moral destiny God set for it. And some members may be enjoying this moral destiny after the extinction of all human beings in the natural universe.
The way to eliminate the human species, as we know it now, would have been to reduce the human animal to an amoral animal with no moral destiny. If so reduced the human condition would be accurately described by nihilism. Nihilism holds that everything is permitted for humans if they can get away with it. There is no way, according to nihilism, that humans collectively or individually ought to be. With no goal of the way we ought to be there is no purpose for which we should live. We are simply an animal which has evolved with an extremely clever intelligence but there is nothing which this intelligence ought to accomplish since evolution alone has no purpose or purposes. Nihilism describes the human species as one amongst millions of species which come into existence and pass into extinction for no purpose whatsoever.
How can humanity be annihilated as it ought to be but yet undergo this annihilation so that it still has the good God originally set for humanity?
A solution is that one human being pass through the pain and annihilation required by morality. What would such a human be like? I have argued that the logic of moral thinking does not preclude the permissibility of a person, or persons, who have not done the wrong undergoing punishment to atone for the wrong.****
A human who was truly human and truly divine could pass through pain and annihilation required by morality and still have the end set by God if that being reincarnated Itself entitled to have the end God sets for humanity. Jesus of Nazareth who I accept as true God and true man is such a person.
In his death on the cross the man Jesus underwent for all humanity the annihilation of humanity. He vanished as nothing as nihilists posit as the fate for all of us. Non-being is total evil. So vanishing is a “descent into hell.” Jesus’ dual nature allows for the radical discontinuity of vanishing but yet continuing. As a human he vanished as God he remained so that at the resurrection the risen Jesus was the same dual nature being but with the human nature which justifiably has a moral destiny.
This resurrected human is a human as humans ought to be. By the action of this resurrected human the thought that we are justified in holding that we have a goal set by God is in our common reasoning. The Paschal Mystery justifies us in believing that we are justified – have a right to salvation, viz. attaining what we ought to be..
This is more than enough for a single post. As promised subsequent posts will elaborate on this conceptual mode of the Paschal Mystery which I am trying to construct.
But one last question. What about human sacrifice in the Paschal Mystery?
God sacrifices Himself by incarnating Himself so that He can be the representative human executed in accordance with the demands of human morality.
In my book on sexual morality I show how if it is true that all sexual acts are in principle permissible then nihilism is a correct philosophy of the human condition.
My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. Email email@example.com to request a free copy.
* Can God Love Humanity After Original Sin?
**Human Reasoning is Inconsistent: Thank God
***There is a Satan in Opposition to God
Retributive Punishment is Consistent with the Logic of Moral Thinking
For those who might like a biblical passage suggesting my thought of Satan using morality to condemn us consider.
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.” Rev. 12:10 New American Standard