Saturday, November 21, 2009

The absurdity of third-party salvation

Playing with some thoughts here...

I've long been bugged by the teaching that Jesus "died for our sins." I hope this blog entry is not too scattered.

First, a bunch of ground questions:

1. We need to be saved?
--- From what? Damnation? Why? Why are we damned? Why is damnation bad?

2. Why is THIS the way we are to be saved?
--- A couple of possibilities come to mind:

2a. God had to become a person so God would know what it is like to be human and then die in order to have empathy with us. Otherwise, God would not be of the right mind to do so. (This certainly seems to limit God to an absurd, if somewhat poetic, predicament.)

2b. God has always required sacrifice for salvation. Hence, the murder of animals on altars throughout history were necessary until Jesus took their place (Seems to put God in an even more absurd position)

3. A non-literalist approach could be something like this:
---We are saved in the sense that we are taught by an avatar (God as man, i.e.: Jesus) how to be in the Kingdom of Heaven here and now, where we stand, in what we stand, and no longer in need of such an avatar once we learn from Jesus' example. Death was necessary; otherwise, we could easily assume that Jesus was not a man, and therefore not accept that we ourselves could reach salvation.
-----Jesus' resurrection was to show us that death was an illusion. Because we are to follow Jesus' example, we too are immortal, and are beyond the bounds of mortality.

#3 is the only one that makes sense to me.

The literal notion that Jesus' death, spilling his blood all over our sins (and all of that imagery), really was a physical necessity to keep us from damnation.

This in turn implies that we need a third party (God) to actually save us.

And I find all of that absurd.

It makes more sense to me that we are who we are and can move at our own pace, of our own free will, into enlightenment / salvation.

I think of it like this:

You live in a house in which everyone drinks too much alcohol, eats too many Twinkies, and always seems to be on crack.

You decide that you would like to be healthy, so you do not participate in the same habits.

You did this. It wasn't, "I chose to refrain from these activities and suddenly a bunch of Jesus' blood poured all over me and I was miraculously prevented from having liver disease, diabetes, and whatever happens to people when they use crack."

It was something purely natural: you did this and as a result you -- YOU -- avoided those side effects.

It's the same thing with salvation. Sure, I could say the sinner's prayer and claim to be saved (whatever that might mean) by God and do, basically, nothing else and remain in a cloudy place of doing whatever the rest of the people in my (hypothetical) church are doing. Dum-dee-dum. Twiddling my thumbs here.

Or I could follow Jesus into the Kingdom of Heaven right now, experience salvation now, because it's already there, and I can do what it takes to wake up to it. You know, the whole letting go of everything and following. More than words, more than faith. Action.

Caveat: I have no idea what that action looks like.

But: I think perhaps I will be able to find out when I stop asking permission from people who claim to know more than I do about God, about spirituality, about that which is invisible, about that which is difficult to explain.

I keep on giving my power away. By doing so, it seems like I'm giving my salvation away too.

Peace and all good,
Andrew

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