A GOSPEL ACCOUNT OF OUR FATHER
AND THE BLOOD ATONEMENT OF JESUS
Copyright © 1999 Michael Shanbour(1)
Used by Permission of the Author
Contents of this Document:
I. Before God will forgive sins and grant eternal salvation to all, it was necessary that an innocent and sinless Jesus die on the cross as a sacrifical substitute to appease God's wrath and assure justice.
II. Was the purpose of Jesus' bestowal to die on the cross as an innocent sacrifice to satisfy a debt owed to God by Man's sins?
III. Was Christ's crucifixion necessary before we could have eternal life?
IV. Before the father forgives us our sins, was it necessary for Christ to die on the cross as a sacrifice?
V. Does the Father in heaven or Jesus desire sacrifices of innocent humans or animals?
VI. Does God's mercy require the death of an innocent sacrifice?
VII. What verses said by Jesus in the canonical gospels may allude to the premise that it was God's will that Christ be sacrificed on the cross for the sins of man?
Recently, I attended a bible study class at a couple's home here in Oklahoma City. Including myself, there were seven who attended this group. During this study, the moderator asked whether there was a subject that anybody would like to explore. Responding to this question, my girlfriend at the time, who was more of the "fundamental" bible persuasion, stated that "Michael has some interesting ideas regarding the Atonement Doctrine." Consequently, I was asked by the group what my particular views were regarding the blood atonement. To their negative astonishment, I proceeded to espouse my disbelief in such a perverse doctrine. In my discourse, I stated that this doctrine arose out of the old Jewish tradition of sacrifice(2) and was attached to the death of Christ through the letters of Paul and to a lesser extent other New Testament authors.(3) In fact, I went so far as to state that this doctrine was neither a pre-ordained plan of God, nor supported by the biblical words of Jesus as reflected in the canonical Gospels. As one would expect, the reaction by the group was adverse. After all, I was rejecting one of the fundamentals and the cornerstone of most Christian churches.(4) As a result, I was asked to prove my assertion within the confines of what they perceived being the word of God, the Holy Bible.
The following paper is the result of my research and constitutes a proof that the Blood Atonement did not have its origin in either God as revealed by the biblical Jesus or by Jesus Christ himself as reflected in the Bible. This paper was written not only for an audience whose belief is based on the assumption that the Bible is the only inspired "Word of God", but also for an audience who find it hard to reconcile an all loving and merciful God with one that would pre-ordain such a barbaric plan and thus alienate them from the "Biblical Jesus."
This paper will draw upon those New Testament books which contain the direct "words" of God and Jesus. These books are aptly called the canonical Gospels. The canonical Gospels consist of the books Matthew, Mark, Luke and John found in the New Testament of the Holy Bible. They were accepted and canonized(5) by the Bishop Council meetings in Carthage (393 A.D. - 419 A.D.) as the authentic words and deeds of Jesus.(6) For those who follow the "red letter" versions of the Bible, these are the books which contain the red letters constituting the words of Jesus Christ.(7) Although there are other ancient gospels (apocrypha) which claim to contain the words of Jesus Christ not found in these four books, these four are the only books which will be used in this paper because of the widespread belief by most Christians that these are the only books which contain the authentic words of Jesus Christ.(8) Whether that belief is valid or invalid is beyond the scope of this paper and as such will not be discussed. Moreover, the issue as to whether the other books of the New Testament are accurate interpretations of the words of Jesus or the religion of Jesus as revealed in the canonical gospels will not be addressed.(9) Therefore, the scope of this paper will address the Blood Atonement Doctrine as it directly relates to the words of the biblical Jesus Christ who, unlike the prophets of the Old Testament or the writers of the other New Testament books, is the bestowed Creator Son of the Heavenly Father.
Before a discussion of the Blood Atonement Doctrine can occur, some definition of such Doctrine should be constructed. There are many different theories and definitions of this doctrine.(10) For simplicity, this paper will work off of the following "substitutionary" definition of the Blood Atonement Doctrine:
I. BEFORE GOD WILL FORGIVE SINS AND GRANT ETERNAL SALVATION TO ALL,
IT WAS NECESSARY THAT AN INNOCENT AND SINLESS JESUS
DIE ON THE CROSS AS A SACRIFICIAL SUBSTITUTE
TO APPEASE GOD'S WRATH AND JUSTICE.
In order to address whether this doctrine is a valid precept of Jesus' Heavenly Kingdom contained within the actual biblical words of Jesus, more questions and answers are required. For example, to determine whether such doctrine is a pre-ordained plan of God, analyses of those passages where the Father or Jesus directly speak are necessary. As such, this paper is divided into seven (7) main categories of questions with additional sub-questions and answers.
Using the New International Version Bible,(11) these seven categories of questions will cover all of the canonical Gospel passages containing: 1. Jesus' words regarding who speaks for the Father; 2. Jesus' bestowal purpose; 3. the requirement for obtaining the Father's forgiveness; 4. the requisites for procuring eternal salvation; 5. Jesus' view regarding sacrifices; 6. Jesus' words pertaining to the Father's mercy; and 7. the canonical Gospel passages containing words of Jesus which may allude to the Blood Atonement. Since the four gospels often overlap each other, some verses containing the same occurrence may be shown.
HOW DO WE KNOW GOD'S PLAN?
Most advocates of the Blood Atonement believe that God pre-ordained the death of Christ on the cross to cleanse mankind of his/her sins of the past and the future.(12) Therefore, to determine whether such a plan existed, one needs to search in the scriptures and find where God mentioned this specific plan. As most would agree, there is no direct mention of such a plan directly from God in either the canonical Gospels or the rest of the New Testament. Consequently, this plan, if it exists, must occur in the words of His designated spokesperson. The following are passages containing all the verses where God the Father directly mentions who should speak for him:
WHO SPEAKS FOR THE HEAVENLY FATHER?:
ACCORDING TO GOD:
NIV Matthew 17:5
5. While he was speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!"
NIV Mark 9:7
7. Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: "This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!"
NIV Luke 9:35
35. A voice came from the cloud saying, "This is my Son, whom I have chosen. Listen to him!"
Obviously, according to three of the four canonical Gospels, God is directly instructing all that Jesus' words and teachings are reflective of the Father himself. In the least, Jesus stands as the direct spokesperson of the Father. Neither Paul, Augustine, nor any prophet of old were ever directly mentioned in this light. In fact, these are the only instances within the canonical Gospels of a direct quote from God. Therefore, one could conclude that the words of Jesus are representative of the true intent and purposes of God.
ACCORDING TO JESUS:
NIV John 9:13
13. Jesus answered, "My teaching is not my own, it comes from the one who sent me."
NIV John 3:34
34. For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit.
NIV Matthew 23:10
10. Nor are you to be called `teacher,' for you have one Teacher, the Christ.
Although the reasoning may be circular, the conclusion that Jesus speaks for God is further supported by Jesus himself. As quoted above, Jesus humbly states that his teachings are not his but a direct manifestation of God the Father. As a result, one may conclude that the intent of God the Father can be surmised only through the words of Christ. Even more poignant is Matthew 23:10 where Jesus states that there is only "...one teacher, the Christ." Therefore, one might also conclude that the rest of the bible, including the words of Paul are secondary to the actual words of Jesus and should not be considered on the same divine level. As such, any direct contradiction with Jesus' words should be considered null and void. One could even take such verse literal and limit the "Word of God" to just the words of Jesus as revealed in the canonical Gospels. This interpretation would mean that both the Old Testament and the rest of the New Testament books are merely apocryphal and not the "Word of God." After all, the verse does state that there is only "one teacher" and that no one else shall be called teacher.
II. WAS THE PURPOSE OF JESUS' BESTOWAL TO
DIE ON THE CROSS AS AN INNOCENT SACRIFICE
TO SATISFY A DEBT OWED TO GOD BY MAN'S SINS?
Given the premise that Jesus Christ speaks exclusively for the Heavenly Father, to answer the question as to whether the purpose of Jesus bestowal was to die as a sacrifice for the sins of man, one must ask what did Jesus say regarding his purpose? The following are the entire passages where Jesus directly answers the purpose of his bestowal:
ACCORDING TO JESUS: WHAT WAS THE PURPOSE OF HIS BESTOWAL?
NIV Luke 4:43
43. But he said, "I must preach the good news of the Kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent."
NIV Luke 4:17-19
17. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
18. "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed,
19. to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
NIV Luke 22:27
27. "But I am among you as one who serves."
NIV John 4:34
34. "My food," said Jesus, "is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work."
NIV John 3:17
17. "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."
Clearly, Jesus states that his purpose was to spread truth, to serve, and to save. No where did Jesus state that his purpose was to die on the cross to atone for the evils and sins of mankind. Even if dying on the cross for the sins of man were a minor purpose, Jesus surely would have mentioned such purpose. One could say that John 3:17 above means that the world is saved through his death on the cross. However, to interpret this as such would be adding words to the words of Christ. It is this author's belief that the Aramaic language(13) which Jesus spoke had the word "death" and/or any derivative thereof. If Christ had meant to save the world through his death, it is this author's belief he would have used such word. A more sensible and consistent interpretation would be that Jesus was the embodiment of truth and that all who sincerely seek truth, seek him, and therefore are saved through the truth and this positive message is "good news."(14) This particular interpretation is consistent with Jesus' teaching that all men and women are brothers and sisters, and as such, opens up the Kingdom to all sincere truth seekers regardless of their original belief system.
III. WAS CHRIST'S CRUCIFIXION NECESSARY
BEFORE WE COULD HAVE ETERNAL LIFE?
According to the basic component of the Blood Atonement Doctrine, to have eternal life and salvation, Christ had to die on the cross. Moreover, many Christian Churches teach that not only did Christ have to die on the cross to atone for our sins, but one also had to believe in this doctrine before that person could have eternal life. The following are passages which contain all the verses where Jesus explicitly addresses the subject of what is required to have eternal life:
ACCORDING TO JESUS: WHAT IS REQUIRED FOR ETERNAL LIFE?
BELIEF IN JESUS:
NIV John 3:15-16
15. that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
16. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
NIV John 3:36
36. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life,
NIV John 5:24
24. "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.
NIV John 6:40
40. For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."
According to the canonical Gospel of John, one has to believe in the words of Jesus and his teachings to have eternal life. Jesus did not state that one had to believe in him AND any other Christian writers who will come after him whose writings were voted by certain human Bishops of the early church to be the "Word of God."(15) Since belief in Jesus' words were necessary to have eternal life, the question now becomes what were these words regarding personal salvation? The following passages contain all the verses where Jesus explicitly address how one may obtain eternal life:
B. FOLLOW JESUS' COMMANDMENTS:
LOVE THE FATHER AND LOVE THY NEIGHBOR
NIV Matthew 22:35-40
35. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:
36. "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"
37. Jesus replied: "`Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'
38. This is the first and greatest commandment.
39. And the second is like it: `Love your neighbor as yourself.'
40. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
a. WHAT IS THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS?
NIV Matthew 7:12
12. So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
NIV Mark 12:28-31
28. One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?"
29. "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: `Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.
30. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'
31. The second is this: `Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."
NIV Luke 10:25-28
25. On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
26. "What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?"
27. He answered: "`Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind' ; and, `Love your neighbor as yourself.' "
28. "You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."
WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR?
NIV Luke 10:36-37 (parable of the Good Samaritan)
36. "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"
37. The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."
LOVE ONE ANOTHER AS JESUS LOVED
NIV John 13:34
34. "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
NIV John 15:12
12. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
NIV John 15:17
17. This is my command: Love each other.
INCLUDING THOSE WHO DO NOT BELIEVE AND ARE MY ENEMIES?
NIV Matthew 5:43-44
43. "You have heard that it was said, `Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'
44. But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
NIV Luke 6:35
35. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.
NIV Matthew 25:40
40. "The King will reply, `I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
According to all four Gospels, Love is the only requisite to obtaining eternal life. Specifically, love the Heavenly Father and love one's fellow man regardless of how godless they may seem (i.e. love your enemies and the untouchable humans "Samaritan"(16)). Moreover, this love should be to the same depth as the love Jesus had for all men and women. Absent is any indication that Jesus had to die on the cross before eternal life could be obtained by the individual. In fact, according to Luke 10:25-28, Jesus specifically states that if one loves the father with all his/her heart, mind and soul and loves his neighbor as himself/herself, then that person shall have eternal life, nothing more and nothing less. To add any extra prerequisites for eternal life would contradict these explicit and unequivocal statements made by Jesus. Therefore, the requisite that one should believe the Blood Atonement Doctrine before eternal salvation can be had is an unnecessary burden placed upon the evolving mortal soul.
IV. BEFORE THE FATHER FORGIVES US OUR SINS,
WAS IT NECESSARY FOR CHRIST TO
DIE ON THE CROSS AS A SACRIFICE?
The Atonement Doctrine in its entirety implies that not only will God be unforgiving until some innocent sinless person dies for the sins of others, but also that he cannot forgive until such a barbaric act happens. The following passages contain all the verses in which Jesus speaks of how one may obtain the Heavenly Father's forgiveness:
ACCORDING TO JESUS: WHAT IS REQUIRED TO RECEIVE FORGIVENESS FROM THE FATHER?
NIV Matthew 6:14
14. For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
NIV Mark 11:25
25. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. "
NIV Luke 6:37
Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
HOW DEEP MUST ONE FORGIVE?
NIV Matthew 18:33-35
33. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?
34. In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
35. "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart."
NIV Luke 11:4
4. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
According to Jesus, the only requisite in obtaining the Heavenly Father's forgiveness is to forgive others with a sincere heart. Nowhere in the canonical Gospels does Jesus state that he must die a brutal death before the Heavenly Father could or would ever forgive man/woman of their sins. To imply that the Heavenly Father could only forgive when an innocent person is killed not only is a total abomination of the teachings of Jesus Christ, but also makes the Heavenly Father seem like a conspirator to premeditated murder.
V. DOES THE FATHER IN HEAVEN OR JESUS
DESIRE SACRIFICES OF INNOCENT
HUMANS OR ANIMALS?
The Blood Atonement is predicated on the primitive belief that blood sacrifice cleanses one of his/her "evil" acts committed in both the past and the future.(17) The following are passages containing all the verses which Jesus impliedly or explicitly addressed this sacrificial belief:
WHAT DID JESUS SAY AND DO ABOUT SACRIFICES?
NIV Matthew 9:13
13. But go and learn what this means: `I desire mercy, not sacrifice.'
NIV Matthew 12:7
7. If you had known what these words mean, `I desire mercy, not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the innocent.
NIV John 2:13-19
13. When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
14. In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money.
15. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.
16. To those who sold doves he said, "Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!"
NIV Luke 6:9
9. Then Jesus said to them, "I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?"
NIV Mark 2:27-28
27. Then he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.
28. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath."
In quoting the Old Testament passage regarding burnt offerings found in Hosea 6:6,(18) Jesus explicitly alludes to the fact that sacrifice is not his desire. Moreover, if Jesus speaks for the Heavenly Father, then one could conclude that God also does not desire sacrifice especially the sacrifice of the innocent as is explicitly and unequivocally stated in Matt. 12:7.(19) A statement cannot get anymore direct than this particular statement. How Atonement theorists can ignore this statement made by Jesus, just goes to show that still they do not know what the words mean `I desire mercy, not sacrifice' because they are still "condemning the innocent" who happens to be Jesus through their promotion of this Doctrine. Despite what some Atonement theorists allege, there is no justice in the condemnation of the innocent.
Although less direct than Matt. 12:7 is Luke 6:9 where Jesus, when answering why he doesn't observe certain traditions of the Sabbath, asks the question as to whether it is better to "save life or to destroy it." Figuratively, one could say that he is speaking of his ministry in saving souls by leading them down the paths of truth even on the Sabbath day which was reserved for a day of rest. However, if this verse is taken literally, then one could construe it as meaning that the tradition of sacrificing animals on the Sabbath was merely an evil destruction of life rather than the doing good in preserving and saving life.(20) Moreover, one could interpret the motive behind Jesus' anger in turning over the tables of the money changers in the temple and releasing the sacrificial animals as a partial result of his revulsion regarding the brutal slaughter of innocent animals in the Father's name. This motive is neither hard to discern nor difficult to believe considering that Jesus' whole message of the Gospel was founded on the supreme idea of Love and peace.
. Furthermore, there is not one incident throughout the Bible that either talks about or alludes to either Jesus or his apostles personally sacrificing innocent animals in the name of his Heavenly Father. It is well documented that religious sacrifices of innocent animals for purposes of atonement were a common practice among the Jewish people during this time period.(21) If such sacrifice was a requirement of the Father, wouldn't one expect Jesus, who lived the Will of the Father, to have sacrificed animals as much as he broke bread?
VI. DOES GOD'S MERCY REQUIRE THE
DEATH OF AN INNOCENT SACRIFICE?
The question as to whether the Father's mercy requires the death of an innocent sacrifice seems to have been answered by Matt. 12:7 above. Since Jesus stated that his desire is for mercy and not sacrifice, then the question now becomes what did Jesus say regarding the Father's mercy? To what extent does the Father extend his mercy? The following passages contain the verses where Jesus talks about the Father's mercy:
WHAT DID CHRIST SAY AND DO ABOUT THE FATHER'S MERCY?
NIV Luke 6:36
36. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
NIV Luke 12:32
32. "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.
NIV Luke 11:11-13
(Father's mercy is as great as, if not greater, than an earthly father)
11. "Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?
12. Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?
13. If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"
DOES THE FATHER'S MERCY ONLY EXTEND TO THE INNOCENT?
NIV Mark 3:28
28. I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them
NIV Luke 6:35
35. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.
NIV Matthew 18:12-14 (see also Luke 15:13-32 "Prodigal Son parable")
12. "What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?
13. And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.
14. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.
NIV Luke 15:7
7. I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
NIV John 8:4-11
4. and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.
5. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such woman. Now what do you say?"
6. They were using this question as a trap, in order to have basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.
7. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her."
8. Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.
10. Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"
11. "No one, sir," she said. "Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."
NIV Luke 23:42-43 (talking to the thief being crucified next to him)
42. Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. "
43. Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."
In light of Jesus' many discourses regarding the Father's mercy, it is hard to fathom how such Blood Atonement became connected with Jesus' revelation of the Father. As stated in Luke 11:11-13, at the very least, the Father's mercy is akin to the mercy shown by a loving earth father. How many earth fathers could in all honesty have a child of theirs tortured and killed because of wrongs committed by others? Moreover, according to Jesus, the Father's mercy is even greater than the mercy shown by most earth parents. How many earth parents with a sincere heart could be "kind to the ungrateful and the wicked" and would be willing to forgive all the "sins and blasphemies" made against them and/or their family?
Jesus, who was the living will of the Father, granted eternal life to a thief without consideration of the sins which that thief had committed. This thief neither repented nor was baptized or even "born again."(22) He merely asked to be remembered, and with mercy, Jesus, who was also physically dying, granted him eternal life. Likewise, Jesus, risking danger to himself, interrupted the stoning of a woman who had violated the law of Moses. Do these incidences sound like a Father who needs to have innocent blood shed in order for him to have mercy on his children?
VII. WHAT VERSES SAID BY JESUS IN THE CANONICAL GOSPELS
MAY ALLUDE TO THE PREMISE THAT IT WAS
GOD'S WILL THAT CHRIST BE
SACRIFICED ON THE CROSS FOR THE SINS OF MAN?
Each verse will be taken individually or if they relate to one another in a set. After the applicable verse or verses, there is an analysis as to how such verse or verses may not support the Atonement Doctrine:
NIV Matthew 20:26-28
26. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,
27. and whoever wants to be first must be your slave--
28. just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
NIV Mark 10:43-45
43. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,
44. and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.
45. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
Regarding Matt: 20:28 and Mark 10:45, one might construe the word "ransom" as being there for purposes of sacrifice within the context of the Atonement Doctrine. However, it could also be construed that "ransom" is used in the context that Jesus had to dedicate his life, of which death is a part, to uplift man's concept and realization of the Father in heaven. That his life was one of total servitude much like an indentured surf commends his life for the whole service of others which is consistent with his message and purpose as stated in the gospels....to serve all.(23) This interpretation seems evident in light of the only congruent cite to Matt: 20:28 and Mark 10:45 regarding this particular metaphor of service taught by Jesus. Luke 22:26-27 which makes no mention of ransom, states "But not so with you; rather let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For which is the greater, one who sits at the table or one who serves? Is it not the one who sits at the table? But I am among you as one who serves" (John had no verse regarding this particular metaphor). It seems highly possible that the author of the Gospel of Luke, which has been considered by some to have been written after Matthew and Mark,(24) to have interpreted Matt: 20:28 and/or Mark 10:45 as being merely a discourse by Jesus to instruct his believers to live a life of complete service for others which is consistent with his other teachings and not as a sacrifice to pay a debt or to free hostages.
If ransom were being used to "pay back" God or the Devil, this would be illogical. Since Jesus took up this life again in the resurrection, what payment was made? He never died. Moreover, if God is being paid, what satisfaction did God receive? It seems odd that God or a part of God would incarnate in the flesh with the primary purpose to be brutally killed in order to "pay" himself back. Furthermore, if Christ's crucifixion were part of God's predestination plan then Judas should be acknowledged as a hero rather than a betrayer because he would be viewed as precipitating "God's will" through his betrayal. As we all know, such hero status defies the Gospels' view of Judas as the betrayer.(25)
Some say the "ransom" is to pay the Devil who will then release mankind from his evil clutches inherited from the "fall of Adam" (fall of man).(26) Even this assertion is not plausible for that would presume that God owes the Devil a debt. This cannot be, because Good is always greater than evil and owes evil nothing.
The next canonical gospel verses which may support the Atonement Doctrine are:
NIV Matthew 26:26-28
26. While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body."
27. Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you.
28. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
NIV Mark 14:22-24
22. While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take it; this is my body."
23. Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it.
24. "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many," he said to them.
On its face, one might say that the blood of the covenant represents the blood of Christ on the Cross as a sacrifice for the sins of man. However, another interpretation could reveal that both Matt: 26:26-28 and Mark 14:22-24 mention Christ's preaching of his body symbolizing truth and his blood symbolizing forgiveness. These could be construed as symbolizing the divine promise to send the Holy Spirit (Spirit of Truth)(27) and the divine promise to forgive sins.(28) The only parallel cite to these two verses regarding the last supper found in Matthew and Mark can be found in Luke. Luke 22:19-20 states "And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you." For it seems that Christ's intent was for the last supper to be the sole reminder of truth and forgiveness, rather than the Crucifixion. He never drew attention to his death in the same manner that he did this particular supper.
Jesus' emphasis is placed upon the symbolisms contained within the last supper rather than the death symbolism of the Cross which did not become an official Christian symbol until the 4th century A.D. In fact, until the times of the Christian Roman Emperor Constantine, the Cross was not used by many early Christians because of the unpleasant memory regarding the manner in which Jesus died. (29)
During the early 5th Century A.D., Jesus' death and the Cross became more important to Christians through the influential Bishop Augustine of Hippo who emphasized the doctrines of inherited original sin(30) and its resulting need for the Blood Atonement which were later adopted by Protestant founders Martin Luther and John Calvin.(31) These negative Augustinian views regarding the nature of man countered and overcame some early Christian views such as those expressed by the British Monk Pelagius who believed that Adam's sin was personal and affected him only, and therefore, original inherited sin did not exist. Moreover, unlike Augustine who believed that man was born inherently evil through predestined sin and was incapable of salvation absent the irresistible grace of God, Pelagius advocated that human nature was essentially good, and therefore, had the natural capacity through unfettered free will to take the first step toward salvation. Therefore, personal salvation was merely a free will choice of the individual to submit to the Will of the Father through wholehearted actionable service to both God and man.(32)
As such, many early Christians did in fact view the positive life of Jesus rather than his death as a "blueprint" for personal salvation. They saw Jesus as the "Son of God" submitting to the will of God and as the "Son of Man" submitting to the will/laws of man, serving both God and man.
The next verse which Atonist have alluded to as supporting the Atonement doctrine is John 10:11-18:
NIV John 10:11-18
11. "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
12. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it.
13. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
14. "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me--
15. just as the Father knows me and I know the Father--and I lay down my life for the sheep.
16. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.
17. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life--only to take it up again.
18. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father."
In this verse, Jesus creates the metaphor of his devotion to mankind as that of a true Shepherd to his flock of sheep. In particular, he states that he is willing to lay down his life for his sheep and possesses the authority granted by God to take it up again. Many have construed this passage concerning his discourse of having "authority to lay down his life" through a "command" of God. While ignoring the whole context of the passage as being the courageous dedication of Christ's service to mankind and acknowledgment of his inherent divine nature capable of resurrection through his own determination, the Atonement theorist seems to construe such "command" from God as an order from God to Jesus to "sacrifice" himself as an appeasement. Again, this seems to be another interpretation which adds to a passage something which isn't there. Nowhere in this passage is any mention of Jesus being a substitute sacrifice to satisfy God's wrath. Moreover, if God gave Christ divine authority to take his life up, then the "command" could not be a strict order alleged by the Atonement theorist. It stands to reason that if it were a strict divine order from God, then Jesus would not have such authority.
In this passage, Jesus was not only preaching to believers, but also to those who sought to persecute him. As to the believers, the passage itself is a metaphoric discourse on how total devotion is required in the wholehearted service to one's fellow man. Much like a genuinely devoted earth father would never abandon his family, Jesus will not abandon his flock even in the face of the most cruel injustice. He was willing to die for what he believed.
In regards to the Pharisees and Jesus' enemies, it was a twofold message. First, it was a message letting the Pharisees know that he will not flee. Unlike that of a "hireling" who is hired to protect the flock such as the Jewish Pharisees who are hired priests out for their own selfish gain, such courageous devotion will not flee in the face of even the greatest danger. Second, even though in the future they will believe that it is through their power that he physically dies, his physical death will occur only as a result of his allowing it to occur, thereby further proving his wholehearted dedication and willingness to submit to the will/laws of man as the "Son of Man". Thus, he chose to die as he had lived, as a man. However, despite his choice of action, Jesus' does remind us all that he is divine by giving testimony to his divine nature. Not only did the human Jesus decide to lay his life down which any mortal son can do, but also did the Divine Jesus "take it up" (resurrect) on his own accord which only a divine son could do by virtue of the divine gift ("command") from the Heavenly Father.
The following passages reflect Jesus prayerful struggle with "drinking the cup" when the hour had come for his enemies to take custody of his person:
NIV Matthew 26:39, 42
39. Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will."
42. He went away a second time and prayed, "My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done."
NIV Mark 14:35-36
35. Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him.
36. "Abba, Father," he said, "everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will."
NIV Luke 22:41-42
41. He withdrew about a stone's throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed,
42. "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done."
NIV John 18:10-12
10. Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant's name was Malchus.)
11. Jesus commanded Peter, "Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?"
12. Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus...
There are two facts which can be gathered from this discourse. First, Jesus had fore-knowledge that his enemies were on their way to arrest him which was consistent with his knowledge that Judas would be his betrayer. Second, the Father's will was for Jesus to neither flee nor resist such arrest. One could argue that the Father's desire that Jesus not resist this arrest is evidence that the Father had a plan for Jesus' death. Therefore, Jesus was to follow such plan which was for him to serve as a sacrifice for the sins of mankind. However, just because it was the Father's desire for Jesus not to resist his capture and just because the Father did not try to save His Son from this impending death, does not mean that the Father's purpose was for Jesus to be offered up as a sacrifice for the sins of others. To imply that there is evidence of this pre-ordained plan of sacrifice within this verse would again amount to adding words to the canonical Gospels.
A more plausible explanation regarding the Father's desire for Jesus to neither flee nor resist arrest may be for the simple reason that Jesus' work on earth was completed. In effect, the Heavenly Father's acquiescence to Jesus' capture was a "call" for him to come "home." The fact that his work was completed can be found in John 17:4 containing Jesus' prayer to the Father just prior to his arrest. In this passage, Jesus prays "I have brought you glory on earth, by completing the work you gave me to do." This particular prayer clearly states that Jesus' mission had ended prior to his plea in the garden at Gethsemane and his death on the cross. Moreover, there are instances preceding this prayer that Jesus either fled or avoided his premature capture.(33) Why did Jesus avoid danger in the past without prayer to the Father and not in the garden of Gethsemane? Probably because his bestowal work was not finished, whereas by the time of Gethsemane his mission had been completed and accordingly was being called home by the Heavenly Father. Unlike the Atonist's conjecture, this explanation is consistent with both the words of Jesus and the chronological events occurring in his life bestowal.
Another related explanation why the Heavenly Father did not intercede and allowed Jesus' arrest can be found in the greatest gift that God has given man/woman, Free Will. Throughout the Bible there are instances where man has the option of choosing good and evil without any celestial interruption.(34) The Father who, through the divine Jesus, not only honored this gift which he gave each and every individual(35) but also is not a respecter of persons,(36) refused to circumvent the evil will of those who wish to persecute the human Jesus regardless of the fact that Jesus was his divine Son incarnated in the flesh. The Heavenly Father is truly consistent within himself and does not play favorites.
From this, one may surmise that Jesus, though divine, was also a mortal of the realm who was expected to finish his life in the flesh like all other men and women without any supervening divine interference. Truly, the divine was genuinely experiencing what it is like to be a material creature, by living and dying as a man.. And in the end, the human Jesus as the Son of Man "...accepted his fate and, honoring his Father's gift of free will, allowed misguided mortals to slay him."(37)
The last Gospel verse which may allude to the Blood Atonement is John 3:16. I add this verse, after I was informed that such verse is one used by many Sunday school classes to legitimize the Atonement doctrine:
NIV John 3:16
16. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
It seems odd that this verse is used most often to give Gospel credence to the Atonement Doctrine. This verse states "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." Where the notion of the sacrifice of an innocent person to appease God's wrath can be derived from the word "gave" as in "God gave" is beyond logical comprehension and again borders on adding words through biased interpretation. A simple and more appropriate interpretation which is consistent with the canonical Gospels(38) would state that in such verse God loves the world so much that he sent his one and only Son, and that whoever believes in him and his teachings shall not perish but have eternal life.
According to The Interpreter's Bible which is a widely used bible commentary published by Abingdon Press, the writer in commenting on the use of John 3:16 as support for the Atonement theory stated that "Some of the past explanations of the gospel are not over helpful to us now. Most of us are not at home in the Jewish sacrificial system; and metaphors drawn from it can be confusing rather than illuminating. And some of the interpretations, popular in the Middle Ages, are to us incredible, and even monstrous...So do many, with the Gospels in their hands, appear to see in them a lesser God giving himself to save us from the implacable fury and resentment of the great God, slow and hard to be appeased, and demanding his pound of flesh from someone. That is hideous heresy; and the blasphemy of blasphemies. It was the eternal plan of God the Father that Jesus Christ lived out in fact: 'God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself' (II Cor.5:19), not standing sullenly aside, and needing himself to be reconciled."(39)
Another statement which proves that such Atonement was not the plan of the Father was made by Jesus while on the Cross. While on the Cross, Jesus exclaimed "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing"(40) This statement does not sound like he is appealing to an entity whose ultimate plan was for him to die on the Cross so that entity's wrath may be appeased. Instead, Jesus seems to be asking God to have pity and forgive those who willfully executed him without just cause. Therefore, even Jesus' statement on the Cross seems to contradict the assertion that it was God's plan that Christ be sacrificed on the Cross to appease God's wrath and to lift any curse that may have been placed on mankind.
But probably the most direct statement coming from Jesus opposing the whole idea of the Atonement can be found in Matt:12:7(41) where Jesus specifically states that mercy should supplant sacrifice, in particular - the sacrifice of innocent life. This direct verse, coupled with the fact that the only prerequisite in gaining forgiveness from the Heavenly Father(42) is to sincerely forgive others couched within the panoramic grandeur of the Father's unconditional mercy(43) and in light of the fact that Jesus' words are that of the Father in Heaven,(44) wholly runs contrary to the Blood Atonement doctrine which is predicated upon the sacrifice of a sinless innocent person to pay ransom to or appease the vindictive wrath of an unmerciful God.
"When once you grasp the idea of God as a true and loving Father, the only concept which Jesus ever taught, you must forthwith, in all consistency, utterly abandon all those primitive notions about God as an offended monarch, a stern and all-powerful ruler whose chief delight is to detect his subjects in wrongdoing and to see that they are adequately punished, unless some being almost equal to himself should volunteer to suffer for them, to die as a substitute and in their stead. The whole idea of ransom and atonement is incompatible with the concept of God as it was taught and exemplified by Jesus of Nazareth. The infinite love of God is not secondary to anything in the divine nature.
All this concept of atonement and sacrificial salvation is rooted and grounded in selfishness. Jesus taught that service to one's fellows is the highest concept of the brotherhood of spirit believers. Salvation should be taken for granted by those who believe in the fatherhood of God. The believer's chief concern should not be the selfish desire for personal salvation but rather the unselfish urge to love and, therefore, serve one's fellows even as Jesus loved and served mortal men.
Neither do genuine believers trouble themselves so much about the future punishment of sin. The real believer is only concerned about present separation from God. True, wise fathers may chasten their sons, but they do all this in love and for corrective purposes. They do not punish in anger, neither do they chastise in retribution.
Even if God were the stern and legal monarch of a universe in which justice ruled supreme, he certainly would not be satisfied with the childish scheme of substituting an innocent sufferer for a guilty offender.
The great thing about the death of Jesus, as it is related to the enrichment of human experience and the enlargement of the way of salvation, is not the fact of his death but rather the superb manner and the matchless spirit in which he met death.
This entire idea of the ransom of the atonement places salvation upon a plane of unreality; such a concept is purely philosophic. Human salvation is real; it is based on two realities which may be grasped by the creature's faith and thereby become incorporated into individual human experience: the fact of the fatherhood of God and its correlated truth, the brotherhood of man. It is true, after all, that you are to be `forgiven your debts, even as you forgive your debtors.'"(45)
2. see NIV Exo. 25-17, 29:33-39, 30:10-16; NIV Lev.1:2-5, 4:20-35, 5:6-10, 5:14-18, 6:6-7, 8:15, 9:7, 10:16-17, 12:6-8, 14:12-32, 14:50-53, 15:14-15, 15:29-30, 16:6, 16:9-10, 16:11, 16:15-34, 17:11, 19:22; NIV Num. 5:5-8, 6:11, 8:12, 15:22-28, 28:22, 28:30, 29:5, 29:10-11, 35:33; NIV 1Chr. 6:49; NIV 2Chr. 29:24; NIV Neh. 10:33; NIV Eze. 45:15
3. According to The Encyclopedia of Religion, "There is no single New Testament doctrine of the Atonementthere is simply a collection of images and metaphors with some preliminary analysis and reflection from which subsequent tradition built its systematic doctrines and theories." Moreover, "Paul is our earliest written source for the dimensions of atonement in apostolic preaching: `For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures' NIV 1Cor. 15:3; see Eliade, Mircea, The Encyclopedia of Religion, Vol. 1, (MacMillan Publishing Co., New York, 1987) p. 496. Paul's Epistles constitute 14 of the 27 books contained in the New Testament.
The following are passages containing Paul's "images and metaphors" regarding the Blood Atonement: NIV Gal. 1:3-4, 3:13, 4:4-5; NIV Eph. 1:3-12, 1:17-22, 2:4-10, 2:13-18, 5:2, 5:25; NIV Col. 1:19-20; NIV 1Tim. 2:5-6; NIV 1Cor. 1:17-18, 5:7, 15:3; NIV 2Cor. 5:18-19; NIV Rom. 3:24-26, 4:25, 5:6-11, 5:15-21; NIV 1The. 5:9-10; NIV Tit.2:14; NIV Heb.2:9, 2:17, 7:27, 9:7, 9:12-15, 9:20, 9:22, 9:24-28, 10:1-20, 12:24, 13:12, 13:20-21. Note: According to The Easton Bible Dictionary, although not completely certain, the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews is thought to be Paul or one of his associates. see M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, 3rd Edition, (Thomas Nelson Publishing, 1897) T0001711 -- http://ccel.wheaton.edu/e/easton/ebd/ebd/ T0001700.html These are passages by other New Testament authors which reference the Blood Atonement: NIV Acts 20:28; NIV 1Pet. 1:18-20, 2:24, 3:18; NIV 1John 1:7, 2:2, 3:5, 4:10, 5:6
4. Between 1910-15 two wealthy Los Angeles laymen, Lyman and Milton Stewart mailed twelve booklets entitled The Fundamentals consisting of literature containing conservative Protestant Christian theology to three million people. These booklets espoused `the Five Fundamentals' adopted by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of U.S.A. in 1910. The "fundamentals" adopted by the conservative Christians are: 1. Inerrancy of the Scriptures in the original documents; 2. the deity of Jesus Christ and his Virgin Birth; 3. the Substitutionary theory of Atonement; 4. the Physical Resurrection of Christ; and 5. Christ's Miracles. Conservatives later added the doctrines of Original Sin (human depravity and inherited sin) and Christ's Second Coming. see Gentz, William H., The Dictionary of Bible and Religion, (Abingdon Press, Nashville, 1986) pp. 376-77.
5. Canonization is the process of agreement that certain books or letters are to be designated as sacred writings. "The canon of sacred Scripture is a phrase by which the catalog of the authoritative sacred writings is designated. The word for expression, of Greek Derivation, kanon...originally signified a reed or measuring rod. Actually it indicated `that which measures'...Those books that were measured by the standard or test of divine inspiration and authority and were adjudged to be `God-breathed' were included in `the canon'. see Unger, Merrill F., The New Unger's Bible Dictionary (Moody Press, Chicago 1988) p. 205. Therefore, the Catholic canon (Catholic Bible) contains the 27 New Testament books and 46 Old Testament books whereas the Protestant canon (Protestant Bible) contains the 27 New Testament books and 39 Old Testament books. The Protestant branch of Christianity did not accept the Catholic Old Testament books: Tobith, Judith, Baruch, Sirach, Wisdom and 1, 2 Maccabees as part of their Old Testament canon. Nevertheless, all three branches of Christianity (Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant) accept Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
6. The first known source, listing the 27 books of the New Testament, was the Easter letter of Bishop Athanasius of Alexandria written in the year 367 A.D. to the churches of his diocese. Regarding this list, Athanasius stated that "in these alone is the teaching of true religion proclaimed as good news; let no one add to these or take anything from them." see Beache, Maxine C., The Bible The Book that Bridges the Millenia (General Board of Ministries of the United Methodist Church, New York 1998) p. 48. As a result, the first fixed collections of New Testament books called the Alexandrian canon came about.
Because of the rising tide of Gnosticism which was considered to be a cult form of mystical Christianity, Pope Damasas commissioned synods to determine which books were to be canonized and thus separate "their" books from the so called "Gnostic" books. Using the precedence established by the Alexandrian canon, the Bishop Councils at Hippo (393 A.D.) and Carthage (393, 397, and 419 A.D.), adopted the same 27 books. By the end of the first decade of the Fifth Century, the Catholic New Testament Canon had been determined. Although Martin Luther believed Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation as being spurious and uncanonical, most protestant churches accepted and adopted these same 27 books as their own. see The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 3 (Encyclopedia Press, 1996) p. 274.
Despite the fact that there have been many canon lists and much debate as to which books are canonical or apocryphal, about all the early Church fathers, from Rome to Syria, agreed that the 4 gospels (Matt., Mark, Luke, and John) were inspired and canonical. Id.
7. The "red letter" Bible version originated with the German born Louis Klopsch. Klopsch later became the publisher of the American edition of the Christian Herald. According to Klopsch, the idea of the "red letter" occurred to him after reading Luke 22:20 "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you." Funk, Robert W., The Five Gospels: what did Jesus really say? (Polebridge Press, Sonoma Ca. and HarperCollins Publishers Co., New York, 1993) p. 37.
8. There exists a widely held belief by the majority of Christians (Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant) that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John contain the actual words of Jesus Christ. If one truly wishes to explore the subject concerning the authenticity of these particular words, this author recommends The Five Gospels: what did Jesus really say?, see EN 6. The Five Gospels is the product of the 1985 Jesus Seminar comprising a distinguished group of biblical scholars from major universities and theological schools who used their collective expertise in analyzing the hundreds of verses attributed to Jesus. However, one should only read this book, if s/he is willing to risk their "comfort zone."
As for the Apocryphal Gospels supposedly containing Jesus' words and deeds which were not canonized, see EN 4, include the following: Gospel of Thomas, Signs Gospel, Sayings Gospel Q, Secret Book of James, Dialogue of the Savior, Gospel of Mary, Infancy Gospel of Thomas, Secret Gospel of Mark, Egerton Gospel, Gospel Oxyrhynchus 840, Gospel Oxyrhynchus 1224, Gospel of the Hebrews, Gospel of the Ebionites, Gospel of the Nazoreans see Miller, R.J., The Complete Gospels (Polebridge Press, Sonoma Ca. and HaperSanFrancisco, 1992) table of contents.
9. Unlike the canonical Gospels, the other books of the New Testament (Acts; Paul's epistles; James; 1 and 2 Peter; 1, 2 and 3 John; Jude; and Revelations) do not contain the actual words of Jesus while he lived in the flesh, and therefore are considered interpretations of Jesus' words and deeds.
10. Throughout the history of the Christian church there has occurred many theories regarding the Blood Atonement of Jesus. However, although somewhat overlapping, all such paradigms can be narrowed down to five main theories:
(a) Ransom Theory (Irenaeus, 130-202, Bishop of Lyons):
This theory states that the crucifixion of Christ was necessary in order to pay the Devil (Satan) and release mankind from the inherited sin caused by the Fall of Adam. Origen (185-253), Head of the Catechetical School of Alexandria, embellished upon this idea by stating that Christ offered himself as a ransom to Satan and Satan accepted the payment. However, Satan did not realize that he would not be able to retain such hold because Christ was both divine and holy. As a result, the souls of men, including the ones held in hades, were set free from the evil clutches of Satan. see Stott, J.R.W., The Cross of Christ, 2nd Edition (Inter-Varsity Press, 1989) p. 113; Berkhof, L., The History of Christian Doctrines (Baker Book House, 1975) p. 166.
(b) Satisfaction Theory (Anselm, 1033-1109, Archbishop of Canterbury) In his manuscript, Cur Deus Homo, Anselm stated that instead of God owing Satan, man owed God. Anselm supports this idea with the premise that, unlike Jesus, man does not submit his full will to God. Accordingly, sin results and is an affront to God It was Anselm's belief that "nothing is less tolerable...than that the creature should take away from the Creator the honour due to Him, and not repay what (man) takes away." As a result, man must indemnify God. Moreover, according to Anselm, God cannot overlook such sin because God "upholds nothing more justly than he doth the honour of his own dignity." The "debt" required a satisfaction which man could not pay, therefore, only God or a God-man could pay back such "debt". Consequently, Jesus had to become a man in order to die and pay back the debt for mankind. Anselm further states that the sinless Jesus did this freely for the honour of God, thereby releasing mankind of the debt owed and securing salvation for all. The Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Inter-Varsity Press, 1980) pp. 12-14.
(c) Moral-Influence Theory (Peter Abelard, 1079-1142, Abbot of Monastery at Saint-Gildas-de-Rhuis) Abelard's view was that Jesus' death was the supreme devotion of the love which Jesus had for mankind. Consequently, this love was conceived to evoke the love in the human heart which in effect brought the individual closer to God. The Dictionary of Bible and Religion, EN 3, at 90.
(d) Penal-Substitution Theory (John Calvin, 1509-64, Protestant Theologian) This view is the Atonement theory which this paper addresses and that modern day conservative Protestant churches follow. According to this theory, sin in and of itself denotes death for the sinner. Therefore, but for the sacrifice made by Christ all men/women will not have eternal life because of the sins committed in their lives. A sinless Christ substituted himself to pay the full penalty owed by mankind caused by the sins of man. As a result, the sins of mankind were imputed to Jesus while his righteousness were imputed to all mortals. He suffered in man's place and vicariously died to release mankind from this penalty. This particular view places emphasis on God's righteousness which finds expression in judicial wrath and takes into account man's depravity (original sin) coupled with man's inability to save himself. Pecota, D., The Saving Work of Christ in Systematic Theology: A Pentecostal Perspective (Logion Press, Springfield, Mo.1994) p. 342.
(e) Legal/Government Theory (Hugo Grotius, 1583-1645, Dutch Jurist)
According to Grotius, God's law states that "the soul that sins shall die". Therefore, strict justice requires the eternal death of sinners. Forgiveness in and of itself does not uphold the law. Christ's death was merely a public display of the depth of sin and the extent to which God would go to uphold the righteous or moral order of the Universe. Consequently, Christ died on our behalf but not as a substitute. Ibid at 341.
11. The New International Version Bible is a product of a group of evangelical scholars representing the Christian Reformed Church and the National Association of Evangelicals. Meeting in 1965, these individuals desired a more accurate translation which would meet a wide variety of purposes: `public and private reading, teaching, preaching, memorizing and liturgical use.' and `...were united in their commitment to the authority and infallibility of the Bible as God's Word in written form.' see The New Interpreter's Bible, Vol. 1, (Abingdon Press, Nashville, 1994) p. 27.
12. see EN 9
13. In the New Testament, there are passages which imply that Jesus spoke Aramaic. Probably the most evident examples can be found in NIV Mark 15:13 and NIV Matt. 27:46 where Jesus, while on the cross and quoting Psalms 22:1, spoke the Aramaic words "Elo-i, Elo-i, lama sabach-thani" meaning "My God, My God, why has though forsaken me". Moreover, while Jesus was on the cross, Mary spoke to him in Aramaic. NIV John 20:16: "Jesus said to her, `Mary' She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, `Rabboni!' (which means Teacher)." There are other passages giving evidence that Aramaic was spoken by the peoples of that region see NIV John 5:2, 19:13, NIV 19:17, NIV 19:20; and NIV Acts: 26:14.
14. "Good News" is the translated meaning of the word Gospel which is of Anglo-Saxon origin meaning "God's Spell" or according to others, "good spell" i.e. good news. see Easton, Bible Dictionary, EN 3, at T0001531 --.http://ccel.wheaton.edu/e/easton/ebd/ebd/ T00015.html
15. see EN 5
16. Samaritans are residents of the region called Samaria which was located in the north central part of Israel. When the Jews returned from captivity, the Jerusalem Jews refused to allow the Samaritans opportunity to take part in rebuilding the temple. As a result, the Samaritan Israelites erected a rival temple around 130 B.C. on Mount Gerizim which was subsequently destroyed by a Jewish king. The Samaritans then built another temple at Shechem. There was great bitterness between the Jews and the Samaritans. In fact, during the times of Jesus, the Jews were instructed to have "no dealings with the Samaritans" NIV John 4:9; NIV Luke 9:52-53. see Easton, Bible Dictionary, EN 2, at T0003204 - http://ccel.wheaton.edu/e/easton/ebd/ebd/ T0003200.html
By using the untouchable Samaritan as an example of one's neighbor to love, Jesus was not only extending the Kingdom to include the least of men (in the eyes of the Jews) and therefore to all men, but he was also doing this at the expense of challenging long held religious tradition to avoid undesirables. In fact, some Jews held Jesus in contempt by calling him "a Samaritan." NIV John 8:48.
17. see EN 1 and 2
18. see NIV Hosea 6:6 which states in full: "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings" Note: burnt offerings usually involved the religious sacrifices of animals.
19. see Section I of this paper; NIV Matt. 17:5, NIV Mark 9:7, NIV 9:35, NIV 9:13, NIV 3:34, NIV 23:10
20. see NIV Num. 28:9-10; NIV Neh. 10:33; NIV Eze. 46:4 regarding religious sacrifices of animals on the Sabbath.
21. see EN 1
22. Although there is no evidence supporting this assumption, one may presume as such based on both NIV Matt. 27:44 and NIV Luke 23:41. In Matt. 27:44, "...the robbers who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him." Moreover, in Luke 23:41, the saved thief while speaking with the other crucified thief stated that "We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong." Therefore, an assumption may be constructed from these two verses that the saved thief neither repented, nor was baptized or "born again" prior to his asking Jesus to remember him in the Kingdom.
23. see Section II of this paper; NIV Luke 22:27
24. There is an agreement among Bible scholars that Mark is the oldest of the canonical Gospels. In regards with the synoptic Gospels (oral Gospels - Matt., Mark, and Luke), there are compelling arguments that support the conclusion that Mark is older than Matthew and Luke: 1. Matthew and Luke begin where Mark begins and end where Mark ends; 2. Matthew recreates about 90 per cent of Mark while Luke reproduces about 50 per cent of Mark; 3. Matt. and Mark often agree against Luke, and Luke and Mark often agree against Matthew. But Matthew and Luke together rarely disagree with Mark. see The Five Gospels, EN 6, p. 10-11.
As for which is older Matthew or Luke, there seems to be less of an agreement. According to some, the Gospel of Matthew was authored around 80 C.E. and Luke around 90 C.E.. see The Complete Gospels, EN 7, at 6. While others believe Luke to have been written between 80-85 C.E. and Matthew to have been written around 90 C.E. See Achtemeier, Paul J. The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary (Harper Collins Publishing Co., San Francisco, 1996) pp. 630, 661.
Regardless of the fact that Luke may be older than Matthew and thus could not have been interpreting Matthew, there is little doubt that the author of Luke did have a copy of Mark when writing his Gospel. Moreover, the author of Luke specifically alludes to the fact that his writing is his interpretation of earlier sources when he stated "Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word." NIV Luke 1:1-2. Therefore, one could conclude that Luke 22:26 may be a correlative interpretation of Mark 10:45.
25. see NIV Matt. 10:4, 26:14-25, 26:47-50, 27:3-5; NIV Mark 3:19, 14:10, 14:43-45; NIV Luke 6:16, 22:3-4, 22:47-48; NIV John 6:71, 12:4, 13:2, 13:21-30, 18:2-3.
26. see EN 9, "The Ransom Theory" of Atonement.
27. see NIV John 7:39, 14:16-17, 14:26, 15:26, 16:13, 20:22; NIV Luke 12:11-12; NIV Mark 13:11
28. see NIV Matt. 6;14; NIV Mark 11:25; NIV Luke 6:37, 11:4
29. The Christian cross is thought to have been adopted as a symbol of the Christian church with the Roman Emperor and newly Christian convert Constantine and his 4th Century Edict of Milan granting official State tolerance toward Christianity . "According to Eusebius of Caesarea, Constantine, who consistently showed respect for the cross, had many reproductions made of it. The Emperor had images in his own likeness made with the cross in his hand. If it weren't for Constantine's reverence and acceptance of the Cross, the Cross may not have become the symbol of Christianity because of many early Christian's aversion to its symbolic connotation of Jesus' brutal death and ridicule received by non-Christians who viewed such symbol of death as strange. From the year 314, the scaffold for execution was no longer designated by the word crux, but by patibulum. Constantine finally abolished the crucifixion as a sentence." see The Encyclopedia of Religion, Vol. 4, EN 2, at 162-63.
30. In early Christianity, the doctrine of original sin implied that human nature is flawed and disordered in every human group and being. The principal basis for the doctrine of original sin is established in Genesis where Adam at one time is perfect and immortal and then disobeying God's command became mortal and cut off from God. According to this early view, only death and other consequences of the sin of Adam and Eve passed on to successive generations. However, sin itself was not passed on to successive generations as stated in NIV Eze. 18:20 "The soul who sins is the one who dies. The son will not share the guilt of the Father, nor will the Father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him." and NIV Deu. 24:16 "Fathers shall not to be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their fathers, each is to die for his own sins." see The Dictionary of Bible and Religion, EN 3, at 761-62.
Centuries before Augustine of Hippo (354-430 A.D.), the doctrine of original sin was not an important part of the Christian faith, humans had a free will choice to sin or not to sin. To Augustine, this early view of original sin and the view of human capabilities was too positive. Before Augustine, humans were free to sin or not to sin. Therefore, "Augustine firmly established the doctrine of hereditary sin. He associated its transmission with the sexual act that is necessary for the conception of each new individual." For support of this idea, Augustine relied on Psalms 51:5 `in sin did my mother conceive me'. Therefore, the sin and fall of Adam is inherited by all humans. Moreover, since we are predestined to sin, only the grace of Jesus Christ can restore in us that freedom not to sin. This view of hereditary sin has since dominated Christian dogma. Ibid at 91, 761.
31. Like Augustine, both Martin Luther (1483-1546) and John Calvin (1509-64) believed that the human will was corrupted and in bondage to the sin inherited by Adam's "fall." They believed that man had no control over his sinful nature and was dependent on the grace of God. see The Dictionary of Bible and Religion, EN 3, at 762.
Martin Luther, who started his career as an Augustinian monk, was best known for his protest against the Catholic church's teachings that one's acts could earn forgiveness from God. Luther believed that sinful human beings do not earn forgiveness by their works. According to Luther, Christ's atonement was based on the love God had for man and not through an individual's free will acts. Through his life and writings Martin Luther founded the Protestant movement. Ibid at 635-37.
John Calvin's basic theology was derived heavily from Martin Luther. He believed that humans are inherently sinful and depraved by original and actual sin. Accordingly, man is so depraved that had Christ not "elected" to die for the sins inherited by man, salvation would be impossible. But since Christ elected to die as a substitute for the sins of man, see EN9(d), some are chosen by God to have eternal life while leaving "others to the damnation that they deserved." Moreover, "no one knows the elect for sure, but faith, upright living, and participation in the sacraments are signs of election." He further contended that the "Scripture, unfolded through the Holy Spirit, is the source for divine truth." His writings have not only inspired most conservative protestant sects and their fundamentals, but also established the model of worship and behavior which these churches adhere. Ibid. at 173-75.
32. Pelagius feared that the doctrine of original inherited sin espoused by Augustine diminished man's moral responsibility which he believed was the direct cause of moral laxity. Eventually, the Council of Carthage (418 C.E.) addressed the two opposing views with Augustine's theory of original inherited sin being accepted. Later, the Council of Orange (529 C.E.) adopted a semi-Pelagian view. While upholding the doctrine of original inherited sin, the Council of Orange rejected Augustine's view of uncontrollable predestination and upheld the idea that man does have free will. However, according to this Council man is still dependent on the irresistible Grace of God. Unfortunately, prior to the Council of Orange, Pelagius was condemned a heretic for his views by the Council of Ephesus (431 C.E.). For a good discussion and analysis of the Pelagian controversy, see Warfield, Benjamin B., A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church (Charles Scribner's Sons, New York 1905) pp. 13-17.
33. see NIV John 7:1, 8:59, 10:39, 11:53-54; NIV Matt. 12:14-16
34. see NIV Exo. 15:26, 19:5, 20:6, 23:22; NIV Lev. 26:3-43, NIV Deu. 4:1, 4:40, 5:10, 5:29, 7:9, 7:12-15, 11:26-28, 12:28, 15:4-5, 28:1-14, 29:9, 30:1-10, 30:15-20; NIV Jos. 1:8; NIV 1Kgs. 2:3-4, 3:14, 8:23, 9:3-9; NIV 1Chr. 22:13, 28:7-8; NIV 2Chr. 7:17-22, 26:5, 27:6, 30:9, 31:10; NIV Job 36:11; NIV Prov. 3:1, 16:7; NIV Isa. 1:19; NIV Jer. 7:3-7, 7:23, 11:1-5, 12:16, 15:19-21, 17:24-27, 22:4-5, 22:15-16; NIV Zech. 3:7; NIV Mal. 3:10-12; NIV Mal. 3:10-12; NIV Matt. 10:22, 24:13; NIV Mark 13:13; NIV Col. 1:22-23; NIV Heb. 3:6-14, 6:11-12, 10:36; NIV Rev. 2:10
35. see NIV Matt. 10:22, 24:13; NIV Mark 13:13
36. see NIV Mark 12:14, 22:16; NIV Luke 20:21
37. see Elstrott, K., The Fifth Revelation (Mighty Messenger Press, New Orleans, 1998) p. 168.
38. see Section III (A) in this paper; NIV John 3:36, 5:24, 6:40
39. see The Interpreter's Bible, Vol. 8, (Abingdon Press, New York/Nashville, 1957) p. 511.
40. see NIV Luke 23:34
41. see Section V of this paper
42. see Section IV of this paper
43. see Section VI of this paper
44. see Section I of this paper
45. see The Urantia Book, Paper 188 (Urantia Foundation, Chicago, Ill. 1955) p. 2017.
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