Monday, February 22, 2016

We Killed God

(Preface, this was an unintended continuation of the previous three posts. It is related but written separately, therefore I am not including it as a "part" of the series on my Thoughts on Hell.)

As I wrote in my discussion on hell, Rene Girard posits that sacrifice was a human construct. As an example, if two tribes were fighting, a scapegoat would be chosen from one of the tribes. They would then sacrifice this scapegoat as a way to end the violence and declare peace. Girard's theory is once they performed the sacrifice, they would say it was done as a requirement of their deity. This became pervasive throughout humanity, where humans would kill a scapegoat and then blame it on their god. (This copying of each other is mimetic behavior, another of his popular theories.)

As it relates to the cross of Christ, the metaphors of Jesus as the perfect sacrifice abound in and out of Scripture. Perhaps the most poignant, though, is that of as a sheep being led to the slaughter. Throughout the New Testament, we are made well aware of the power Jesus commanded: Legions of angels were at His hand and He had enough power to control the weather with His voice. Yet, despite no written command from God for Him to die at our hands, He willingly goes to the cross. (Though, I suppose the scene in Gethsemane makes us understand it is more for selflessness rather than willingness.) As He goes, we have in our mind the words that, “It is better for you that one should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” (John 11:50) This prophetic voice does not negate Girard's theory. Instead, it is actually further backed by the actions of the crowd as they chant “Crucify him, crucify him!” It is not God who demands the sacrifice of His Son, His very self. Rather, it is us humans who believe the sacrifice will appease and bring peace between them and God and them and the Romans.

However, though God did not ordain or demand this act of evil, He did redeem it. We killed God, He proved once and for all He rules over death. We killed God, He showed us how to lay down our lives, even when the reason is not just. We killed God, His love shown through as He spoke to His followers. We killed God, He ended the senseless bloodshed of the sacrificial system of Judaism. He reminded us that burnt sacrifices are nothing without a repentant heart. He will love us regardless of our actions, just as I will love Dante no matter what choices he makes in life. However, just as I will be happiest when Dante makes the most of life, so too does Jesus want us to “have life and have it abundantly.” Though we killed God, He is alive, so let us now live fully!


Sheri Cornett said...

I'm not sure I understand this post. Our you saying that the cross was not something that God demanded for our salvation?

Karl said...

That is correct. A more in depth analysis can be found here, which I found a few days ago.
There other posts are beneficial as well.

Sheri Cornett said...

I'm trying to not come biased to the article you shared. Though my first thought is confusion by the very questions "Is God Bound by 'Justice'"? To me that's like asking, "Is God bound by God?" I understand that he is referring to a human concept of justice. But our human concept of justice is derived from the nature of God. I'm relying heavily on another universalist's ideas here. George MacDonald often spoke about how the character of God is our own true law. He is love. Therefore, we do not hate. He is life. Therefore, we do not murder. He is also Justice. Is he "bound" to that? Is he bound to act like himself? Well, yeah. And though the legal metaphors fall apart, that doesn't negate that Scripture uses them repeatedly because they are the shadow of the reality. Like marriage is the shadow of the reality of Christ and the church. Because some marriages fall apart we can't throw out Christ and the church.

Sheri Cornett said...

By the way, I'm kind of responding as I read it.

Sheri Cornett said...

As I continue to read, he begins to discuss that we no one "deserves" the flogging and the cross.
"People say, “Jesus took what you deserve.”

But really? At what age does a person deserve to be flogged and nailed to a cross?

7 years old? 10? No? How about the dreadful “age of accountability”? 12? So a 12 year old kid deserves to be flogged and nailed to a cross?

No? How about 90? Has the kindly old lady next door finally worked in enough sin to deserve to be flogged and nailed to a cross? At what age does the torture Christ experienced become “deserved” punishment?"

Interesting philosophy, but I find this light on Scripture. How does this account for Romans 3:25? What do you do with the word "propitiation"? Or Romans 5:9. It specifically says we are saved "through Him from wrath." Whose wrath is that referring to? Or again, Romans 2:5

Sheri Cornett said...

I find some Scripture here:
"In fact, we see the opposite. Jesus actually talked about God’s requirement for forgiveness in Matthew 6:14, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”
But Hebrews 9:26 teaches, at least to my understanding, that the blood of Christ worked backward and forward in history. Abraham was saved through Christ or Scriptures that say "There is no other name by which we must be saved" can't be true.

Sheri Cornett said...

I'm read the article again, as well as your own post, and try to think about it. But, forgive me if this comes across the wrong way, what I see is a lot of human argument to justify the parts of God that are difficult for our human minds to grasp and accept.

Karl said...

1st, thanks for actually engaging on this.

2nd, please let me know what you think when you re-read the article (along with the others on their site).

3rd, for propitiation, it's interesting what the Holman Treasury of Key Bible Words says on it's definition.
"In ancient times, many polytheists thought of their gods as unpredictable beings, liable to become angry with their worshipers for any trifle. When any misfortune occurred, it was believed that a god was angry and was therefore punishing his worshipers. The remedy was to offer the god a sacrifice to appease his anger. This process was called propitiation."

Sounds legit, right? Well, then, "A few of the NT writers used exactly the same word, but the meaning was slightly different. Instead of seeing God as one whose mood needs to be appeased, propitiation focuses on the sacrifice of Jesus by death on the cross which brought the resultant peace between God and sinful humanity. The message we get from (list of verses with propitiation) pertains to Christ's sacrifice for sins in order to bring about a peaceful relationship between God and humanity."

Now, I fully understand the concept of redeeming something from culture to it's true form. However, at the same time, Paul and other writers purposely used terms to make it easier to understand. If we try to use the "traditional" view (which wasn't held by the Patristics), then God "requiring" propitiation for his wrath makes him more than a capricious demagogue. However, if God is allowing it for the reconciliation between us and Him, for our conscience, that is more supported both by the character of God and logic.

Sheri Cornett said...

Okay, at this point, I'm not sure if we're not arguing semantics or not. Scripture clearly teaches that God wanted to reconcile us to Himself (2 Corinthians 5:11-21).
What I'm not grasping is how you can look at Scripture and not say:
1. God's wrath needed to be appeased
2. God ordained the cross
In reference to God's wrath, i refer again to the Scriptures I posted earlier. I quick search in Scripture for God's wrath leads to Scriptures like:
Romans 2:5: But because of your hardness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment is revealed.
Ephesians 5:6: Let no one deceive you with empty arguments, for God’s wrath is coming on the disobedient because of these things.
Colossians 3:6: Because of these, God’s wrath comes on the disobedient,
Revelation14:10: he will also drink the wine of God’s wrath, which is mixed full strength in the cup of His anger. He will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the sight of the holy angels and in the sight of the Lamb
These aren't proof texts, but part of a thread of Scripture.
How can God be both wrathful and loving, well, that leads me to my next point
And if I remember my Greek correctly, the Scripture I referenced in Romans that uses the word propitiation uses a Greek word used only other place in the NT, Hebrews 9. There it is translated "the mercy seat." So the concept is not from some kind of ancient polytheistic mythology. It comes from the Holy of Holies. It is all tied up in mercy.
And as for God ordaining the cross, Acts 2:23 says that "This man was handed over to you by God's deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross." Not just foreknowledge. Plan. I looked at a dozen translations or so. All used some adjective meaning "predetermined" and the same noun, "plan." One did say "the will of God."

Karl said...

I'm not and as far as I know the author's are not denying God's wrath. As I mentioned, and I'm sure you can relate, when Dante makes poor choices, it causes me frustration. And even if as a teenager or whenever he decide he's through with us, and that will make me even more frustrated , I will hopefully be able to gladly open my arms for reconciliation should he ever return. So too, if humans choose against God in this life, he still is open for reconciliation, which appears to be open through cleansing fire. (Different opinions are on how this appears. Whether it is a time of isolation, or what it seems to with Rob Bell where he seems to advocate the inclusion of the one who doesn't want to be there, which can be hell to them.)
What is being denied is Jesus being necessary for the reconciliation, on the divine side. Humanity is the one needing reconciliatin, not God, therefore humans are the ones demanding propitiation. It is similar to the hardening of pharaohs heart. It says God hardened the heart, but that would be counter to his will of letting the Jews be free.

Christie said...

Sooo many thoughts. I'm working backwards. 1. I have reason to believe God hardened Pharoah 's heart is mistranslated.
2.I may agree in a sense. God did not require sacrifice of Himself. He was perfect. He needed no redemption from sin. We require it because we are sinners. Is that what you mean? If not, how do you differ?
3. What is one of the most abominable things to God? Counterfit. The golden calf wasn't bad in and of itself but because it mimicked and therefore mocked true deity. I think the same is true of human sacrifice and scapegoats. Why was Abel's sacrifice accepted when Cain's was rejected? Because it was a counterfeit of what the sacrifice should be. And what could be worse than a counterfeit of the Son of God?
4. I first find it offensive to say the crowd chanted to crucify Him, as if I were there chanting it too. Because I would not have! Not in my darkest nightmares! And yet, back to my point #2, in a sense I have, if not at that moment. I absolutely believe God planned from the beginning to give us a Savior. I think we all agreed to that plan and thus desired that Jesus die for us. A chilling, confusing thought. But a beautiful one too.

Karl said...

1. I agree. In a possibly incomplete analogy, it's like Dante refusing to clean his room (letting the Israelites go), me taking away his favorite toy (sending plagues), and him becoming more resolved to not clean his room (hardened heart/not letting Israelites go.) Right?

2. Kind of. We are sinners, but the sacrifice (of Jesus or animals) isn't what will save us, thus it is not necessary. Rather, the love of God already will save us, and he asks that we be obedient and live good, just, lives (a la Micah 6:8).

3. When you say Cain's sacrifice was counterfeit, what do you mean by that? Majority of protestant churches teach it is because Abel's sacrifice was his prime choice, whereas Cain's was secondary. (If that makes sense.)

4. Well, I also find it offensive to say that we probably would have been chanting Crucify! with the crowd. However, as I know from experience, I chanted bomb them in response to the 9/11 attacks rather than pray for them/love them, as that was what the majority was saying.

Christie said...

2. I am still confused. If sacrifice wasn't necessary, why did it come it pass? If only God's love was necessary, why go through it unnecessarily?

3. Abel's offering was sincere--the first and purest and therefore best. In similitude of Christ. Cain offered second rate fruit of the ground, which would be a mockery.

4. I said and felt both. However, I don't see the comparison between murderers and the One Who Was without Sin.

Karl said...

2. Just because something something happens doesn't mean it is necessary. That's what the book The Doors of the Sea (and others) addresses.

4. The point is peer pressure and the extreme of mob mentality is great. Yes, there are a few who can go against it, but the majority go with one mob or the other. I'm glad I have finally joined the mob that says no to violence, but before knowing the truth of Jesus, I was on the mob that said kill them. To the Jews who said crucify, he wasn't without sin, he was blasphemous.