There is no end to the horror and evil we humans can imagine for one another. Especially when motivated by religion.
I was listening to a Christian radio station yesterday and heard the pastor talk about the importance of Christmas. We celebrate Jesus’ birth, he said, because it made possible his death without which people are doomed to an eternity of torment beyond imagining.
His logic was as follows: God is infinite. If you sin against an infinite God your sin is infinite, and therefore your punishment is eternal. Since all of us are born sinful against God, we are born to eternal punishment. Jesus’ death is the ransom God demands in exchange for pardoning us and sparing us from eternal torment. Since Jesus is also infinite Jesus is the only being in the universe capable of infinite suffering, the suffering His Father demands. All we have to do is believe.
I believe we create God in our own image, after our own likeness. That doesn’t mean there is no God; it only means that theology tells us more about the theologian than about God. What does this theology tell us about this pastor and those who believe as he does? Let’s see:
His God is infinite. I have no problem with this. My own God, as Source and Substance of all reality, is also infinite. For me the infinitude of God means the universe is infinitely creative and capable of mutation, evolution, and surprise. For him the infinitude of God means that God’s anger is infinite, and His desire for revenge against those who sin against Him is without end. There is no compassion in God, nothing to temper His wrath. Who would worship such a God except a person equally filled with anger and lacking compassion?
His God is obsessed with sins He imagines are against Him. And any sin against God, given God’s infinitude, must itself be infinite, and hence deserving of eternal punishment. Who would worship a God obsessed with sin, except a person obsessed with sin? Who would worship a God whose self-esteem is so low that He imagines He can be sinned against except a person of low self-esteem who is himself obsessed with self?
His God is only pacified by death and suffering. Who would worship such a God except a person filled with homicidal rage?
His God desires and demands eternal suffering from those who offend Him, but allows His Son to be ransomed on their behalf, but only if the suffering of the Son is eternal as well. Jesus’ suffering doesn’t end on the cross, this pastor explained, but continues for all eternity. It is only because Jesus himself is infinite that Jesus can withstand the suffering. Who would worship a God so lustful for pain except a psychopath addicted to inflicting it?
And then, as his sermon came to a close, this pastor, seemingly oblivious to the horror he just preached, wished us all a Merry Christmas. How horribly, horribly sad.
Today I honor the birth of one of the greatest Jews who ever lived. Today I will remind myself of a failed revolution in Jewish thought and living that sought to expand beyond the Jews the message of love and justice the Hebrew Prophets preached to the Jews. Today I will mourn the failure of that revolution, and yet even as I do, I will remind myself that as long as his memory and teaching can be recalled, his revolution can be rekindled.
God is not dead. Believers have just buried Him alive.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
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Rami, I live in hope tat the revolution has not failed... it does not need to be rekindled... it is not over yet... it is just taking a lot longer than I had hoped.
It is nice to hear from a man of infinite patience. I hope you are right, Roy.
Rami...I just read this statement in your blog "His God desires and demands eternal suffering from those who offend Him, but allows His Son to be ransomed on their behalf, but only if the suffering of the Son is eternal as well. Jesus’ suffering doesn’t end on the cross, this pastor explained, but continues for all eternity. It is only because Jesus himself is infinite that Jesus can withstand the suffering."
I am sorry that you have heard such a preaching for Christ no longer suffers. Evidently that pastor is focused so much on the death at the cross that he failed to read and understand that Paul stated that Christ triumphed at the cross. The work that Christ did at the cross is finished...a complete fulfillment of atonement from the time Abel's blood cried out for vengeance...as Christ's blood cried out for mankind's forgiveness. We read in the story of the Exodus that as the people looked up to the serpent raised up on a pole that they were spared from being bitten by the serpents...so it is that Christ was lifted up and we that believe are spared from what God's enemy(s) would have to do with us (John 3:14 NT).
The pastor you heard continues to look at the sacrifice but the real message of what to look for was evidenced in the fact that GOD had made Himself a New Temple with a Forever Unchangeable Priesthood (read Hebrews 7, 8, 9, 10 NT). As the early Aaronic priesthood was to take on the sins of the people and offer sacrifice...Christ paid the sin debt ritual in full, completely for then and it continues to be the fulfilled sacrifice forever so there is no longer a need to ever have another priest offer sacrifice or take on the sins for the people....for Christ sacrificed as the New and Forever High Priest and will forever be the High Priest of GOD and thereby our representative to GOD to come to Him and receive the help, support, and friendship that was never very long attainable thru the earthly priesthood that began with Moses (as each generation would pass and a new priest was appointed...but not so with Christ, for His priesthood will not pass away because He forever lives). Christ does not suffer anymore and is more than joyful and capable to lead each of us to the Living Waters that He offers to drink of eternally forever.
The Father begat a Son...on the day that John was baptizing at the Jordan River the Holy Spirit of the Temple in Jerusalem left the ark of the covenant and entered His Son and thereby Christ received the mantle of High Priesthood forever and the annointing of the Most High continued with Him then (Esaias 61:1 and Luke 4:16-20 NT), and did the miracles that Christ did (John 5:17-24 NT)....and continued all the way with Christ from death unto life and is forever with His Son the Lamb of God (Rev. 21: 22).
The purpose of Christ's mission was to set up the Eternal priesthood in the New Covenant that Jeremiah prophecied of (Jer. 31:31 and Hebrews 8:8 - 13 NT) and establish the covenantal promise forever (Luke 1: 67 -75 NT).
the Dead Sea Scrolls are witness to the fact that there was an existing priesthood in Jerusalem in those days that had become corrupt and had swayed away from God's Holy commandments...therefore in evidence that God was displeased with the corrupt priesthood (Malachi,chapters 1 and 2) it was necessary to establish a new covenant thru God's own son to be eternal and forever without disobedience so that God would continue with mankind in a eternal long lasting relationship of trust.
By not following the lead of His Son then one may enjoy a relationship on earth with GOd but miss out on the eternal relationship with His Son...(example Cornelius had a good relationship with GOD but it was evident that He still needed Christ to enter into the eternal covenant ...read Acts chapter 10...for there are many like Cornelius who still need to accept Christ and Peter also recognized that when he stated, "Of a truth I perceive that GOD is no respecer of persons: But in every nation he that feareth Him(fear in reverance and respect), and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him. (Acts 10:33 -47)
It was therefore necessary that the old temple become obsolete as the New Temple in Christ had been established and accepted that day at Golgotha when our New High Priest had offered himself as sacrifice and those that did not accept messiah then were judged accordingly (read Zephaniah 1:7-18 as indeed God had laid the axe to the root of the trees as mentioned by John the Baptizer in warning the Jews then...that GOD had began His day of judging the day Messias was crucified, the day of the Lord's sacrifice). The 'day of the Lord' was fulfilled in the time era of those days of the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem as Christ had also prophecied to the Samaritan woman at the well that there would be no worship in Jerusalem or on their High mountain anymore...as God had called them into worship in spirit and in truth (John 4: 19 -29).
Christ was turned over to the Romans to be executed because He told the High Priest that he was the 'son of man' prophecied by Daniel (Daniel 7: 13, 14) and that is why they said he blasphemed (Matthew 26: 63- 66) not because of Him calling himself the 'son of God' for He did not answer such...he told Caiaphas that he would see 'the son of man' (which only means man) seated at the right hand of power and coming in the clouds of heaven....which could only be a reference to Daniel's vision of the Messias as Jesus had repeatedly referred to himself as 'Son of man'. And we know that only meant 'man' as Ezekial was also called 'son of man'. So why would they have killed Christ Jesus except he had referred to Himself as the 'son of man' that Daniel had seen in the vision.
Remember Naaman could not be cured until he did what the servant told him to do...and how Naaman expected the prophet to do what Naaman wanted ...instead the prophet sent his servant and Naaman was not healed until he submitted to being washed where The LORD had designated his washing...so it is that GOD has designated that the washing for forgiveness can only come by his servant Jesus the Christ (MESSIAS).
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