Sin and atonement [last part]
January 13, 2011 6 Comments
Meaning of Death in Relation to Christ
Having clearly understood the different options regarding the relative roles that the Divine and the Man in Jesus could have played, we try to comprehend the application of the word ‘death’ and its full meaning in relation to him.
If he died for three days and nights, then death has to be understood in terms of the soul having been severed from the body, and the soul departing. Which means that the soul must depart the body and break off its relationship so completely that only a very dead corpse is left behind. So far so good. Jesus was at last relieved of his imprisonment in the carnal body of a man. However, liberation from this imprisonment should not be considered a punishment at all. The return of the divine soul of the ‘Son’ to the same sublime state of existence cannot be treated in any way like ordinary human death. Human death is fearsome not because the soul leaves the body and severs the ties by gaining a new consciousness, but the horrors of death are mainly on the account of one’s permanently severing ties with many a dear ones left here on earth, and leaving behind one’s possessions and different objects of love. Many a times it so happens that a man who has nothing to live for pefers to die rather than live an empty life.
In the case of Jesus, the feeling of remorse could not have been present. For him the window of death was open only in one single direction, that of gain and not of loss. Why should his departure from the body be considered an extremely pitiable and agonizing experience? Again, if he died once and literally, not metaphorically, gave up the ghost, as the Christians would have us believe, then returning to the same body is the most unwise step attributed to him. Was he reborn when he returned to the body that he had abandoned during the hour of death? If this process is only to be described as revival or resurrection of Jesus, then the body should also have been eternalized. But what we read in the Bible is a completely different story. According to that story Jesus was resurrected from the dead by entering the same body in which he had been crucified and that was called his regaining of life. That being so, what would be the meaning of the act of his abandoning the body once again? Would that not be tantamount to a second death?
If the first departure from body was death, then most certainly the second time he is considered to have abandoned the human body, he should be declared eternally dead. When the soul abandons the body first time, you call it death; when it returns to the same body, you call it life after death. But what would you call it when the soul leaves the same body once again never to return—will it be called eternal death or eternal life according to the Christian jargon? It has to be eternal death and nothing more. Contradiction upon contradiction. A very nerve wrecking experience indeed!
If it is suggested that the body was not abandoned the second time, then we have the strange scenario in which God the Father exists as an infinite incorporeal spiritual being while the ‘Son’ remains trapped in the restricted confines of mortal existence.
Limited Suffering for Unlimited Sin
It may be suggested that it is not always the pangs of conscience which create a miserable state of mind and heart in those who are sensitive to their faults. On the other hand, intense sympathy for the sufferings of others may also create a life of agony for someone who is totally or partially innocent of crime, but has that sublime spiritual quality of suffering for the sake of others. That would also create a similitude of hell. Mothers suffer for their ailing babies. The human experience stands witness to the fact that sometimes for a permanently disabled child the entire life of the mother is turned into a living hell. So why cannot we concede to Jesus that noble quality of being able to suffer for the sake of others? Why not indeed. But why only three days and nights? Why not for his entire sojourn on earth and even before and after that. Noble people do not suffer only temporarily for a very limited period of hours or days. Their hearts do not rest in peace unless they see misery mitigated or alleviated entirely. The hell which we are considering, is not the prerogative of an innocent divine person only, it is a noble quality shared to some degree even by the beasts of the jungle for their near ones.
After a few more remarks I will rest this case, but I have one other important issue to briefly touch upon. The punishment prescribed by God for Jesus Christ, only lasted for three days and three nights. While the sinners for whom he was punished, had committed sins so horrible and for so long that according to the Bible, their punishment was to be eternal suffering in hell. So what sort of a just God was it that when it came to the punishment of those created by Him, people who were not His sons or daughters, they were to be punished eternally? But when it came to the punishment of His own ‘Son’, for sins he had voluntarily taken upon himself, suddenly the punishment was reduced. Only three days and three nights. No comparison whatsoever. If this is justice then let justice not be. How would God look at the conduct of human beings, He has Himself created with His right hand, if they dispense justice as they learned it from Him? Applying different measures to their own children and very different to those of others. Will God the Father watch this loyal imitation with ecstasy or horror? Very difficult indeed to answer.
What Did Atonement Change?
As far as the effect of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ in relation to the punishment of sin is concerned, we have already established that faith in Jesus Christ has in no way reduced the punishment of sin, prescribed by God, for Adam and Eve and their progeny. All human mothers still bear their children with the pains of labor and it is still with labor that man earns his bread. If we consider it from another angle, a broad comparison between the Christian and non-Christian world since the time of Jesus Christ. No believers in Christ can show a remarkable change, in any period of history, of their women delivering their children without pain and their men earning their bread without labor. They do not show any difference in this regard in comparison to the non-Christian world.
As far as the disposition to commit sins is concerned, the world of believers in Christ compared with the world of non-believers do not record any evidence that the dispensation to commit sin is totally obliterated among the category of believers in Christ. In addition to this, one may indeed wonder why having faith in God is considered so inferior to having faith in His ‘Son’. This is especially relevant to the time before this tightly kept, age old secret, (that God had a ‘Son’), was disclosed to mankind. Of course there were people who had faith in God and His Unity. Also innumerable people were born since Christ in every religion and land of the earth, who believed in God and His oneness. Why didn’t faith in God bear any influence on human crime and punishment? Again why could not God the Father display that nobility of suffering for the sake of sinners which His nobler ‘Son’ displayed? Most certainly the Son seems to possess higher moral values (God forbid!) than his less civilized Father. Is Divinity evolving and still in the process of attaining perfection, one may ask.